The ban on religious gatherings during the Christmas and New Year holidays has been challenged in the Delhi High Court. Kamlesh Jacob, an educationist and senior citizen, filed the petition with the help of lawyers Manoj V George, Shilpa Liza George, Akriti Sethi, KM Vignesh Ram, and Amit Kumar.
It claimed that the Delhi government has banned religious gatherings during festivals, despite the fact that the city’s bars, restaurants, auditoriums, and movie theatres are allowed to operate at half or full capacity.
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Despite the fact that Omicron is affecting the entire world, the petition claims that Delhi is the only state in the country to have imposed a blanket ban on religious gatherings.
Jacob further submitted that while the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has allowed religious places to operate, it has completely banned religious gatherings, infringing on citizens’ fundamental right to practise their religion. Meanwhile, the DDMA issued a clarification on Thursday, stating that, while all mass gatherings are prohibited due to the pandemic, religious institutions such as temples, mosques, churches, and gurudwaras will remain open for devotees, subject to strict adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures.
On the eve of Christmas, all devout Christians who have been fasting for the past 25 days are prohibited from attending Chapel Masses in Delhi, but citizens are permitted to have gala dinners, commercial activities, and shopping, among other things. Constitutional principles are violated by the selective exclusion of religious places of worship, Plea stated.
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As a result, the petitioner has asked the court to vacate the Respondents’ impugned Orders dated December 15 and December 22 prohibiting religious gatherings during Christmas and New Year at religious places of worship, and to direct the Respondents to allow worship services in churches for Christmas and New Year, subject to adherence to all enhanced COVID-19 protocols.
The petitioner also asked the Delhi High Court to issue Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for any such worship services held in churches during Christmas and New Year in accordance with SOPs issued by the Ministry of Health on March 1, 2021.