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Bombay HC directs state to consider plea seeking to allow Muharram processions with precautions

The HC has asked the state Home and Disaster Management departments to hear the petitioner and submit their report with reasons by Friday, August 28, morning.




Observing that if Shia Muslims are seeking permission to carry out Muharram processions as per state Disaster Management department guidelines, the Bombay High Court has said that it would be discriminatory if they are not permitted while the same is allowed for Ganeshotsav.

The HC has asked the state Home and Disaster Management departments to hear the petitioner and submit their report with reasons by Friday, August 28, morning.

A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Madhav Jamdar on Thursday was hearing a petition by All India Idara Tahfaz e Hussainiyat, a religious organisation from south Mumbai, seeking directions to allow rituals of Muharram as per Covid-19 protocols.

The bench was told that Shia Muslims in Mumbai and across the state desired to observe a period of mourning for two hours on four days of the Islamic month of Muharram by performing rituals which have been followed for decades. The plea sought to allow a limited number of persons to carry out Mehendi, Alam, Taziya rituals which start from August 27 and culminate in Aashura on August 30.

The petitioner also sought directions to the state government to expeditiously consider applications seeking permission to carry out processions.

Senior advocate Rajendra Shirodkar along with lawyer Shehzad Naqvi for petitioner submitted that the Shia Muslims were seeking permission for a limited number of 20-50 persons to perform the rituals through a procession, which would begin at Bhendi Bazaar area and culminate at Mazgaon Kabaristan.

Government pleader Purnima H Kantharia along with additional government pleader Geeta Shastri for state government opposed the petition. The state also informed the HC that the Supreme Court on Thursday denied a plea for carrying out Muharram processions across the country. The HC sought summary of the apex court’s order.

After the same was provided, the court perused it and observed that there was no such SC order stopping Muharram processions across the country and order was only pertaining to processions in Lucknow. The SC directed the petitioner to approach the Allahabad High Court seeking relief.

“If what you are asking for is on the lines of Ganpati (Ganeshotsav), then they (state) can’t say no. For then, it will be discrimination. But, if you are asking for anything more, then that can’t be allowed,” the bench said.

With this, the bench directed Amitabh Gupta, principal secretary (Home department), Maharashtra, and Kishor Raje Nimbalkar, secretary, state disaster management department, to hear the petitioner and decide on it.

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