NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed three Jain temples in Mumbai to remain open for two days with strict adherence to the SOPs related to Covid-19, making an exception as the government has not allowed opening of places of worship.
However, the top court made it clear that the relaxation will not be applicable to other temples or religious festivals, including the 10-day Ganesh Utsav beginning Saturday. The permission for Ganpati festival will have to be taken on a case-to-case basis from the Maharashtra Disaster Management Authority, it said. “Upcoming Ganpati festival in Maharashtra is altogether different and it will become uncontrollable...,” said the three-judge bench led by CJI S A Bobde.
The bench, however, observed that it was ‘strange’ that the Maharashtra government had allowed reopening of economic activities but not places of worship. “We find this very strange that every activity they are allowing (during Unlock) involves economic interest. They are willing to take the so-called risk where money is involved, but if it involves religion, they talk about Covid and risks,” CJI Bobde said.
The court was hearing a Jain temple trust’s petition to keep its three temples open for the Paryushan festival on August 22 and 23. The trust had moved SC against the Bombay High Court’s order refusing permission to allow offering of prayers during the period. Granting the prayer, the court said, “Our order will not apply to other temples where large congregation takes place...
Ganesh Chaturthi and others festivals will be dealt by the state on case-to-case basis.” Counsel for the state government, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, argued that a court order allowing Paryushan prayers on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi will be discriminatory and also open the floodgates for others to seek similar relief. CJI Bobde, however, reminded Singhvi of the criticism the court had faced when it allowed the Rath Yatra in Puri. “Lord Jagannath forgave us, your Gods will forgive you too,” the judgg said.