MADURAI: Holding that there is no fault in the Tamil Nadu government's decision to ban public celebrations of Vinayagar Chaturthi, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking permission for such celebration.
A bench, comprising of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam, observed that the COVID-19 pandemic is quickly spreading. The effects of the viral infection on persons with low immunity or comorbid conditions are grave, the bench noted.
Even if public celebration is permitted with certain restrictions, it would be extremely difficult to ensure compliance with the restrictions during the celebrations. The judges held that the court could not take any risk with the lives of citizens.
"The government seems to have taken the decision by considering public interest and hence it cannot be faulted. Moreover, religious sentiments and practices should yield to practical difficulties especially amidst the outbreak of a pandemic," they said dismissing the litigation.
Earlier, Advocate General Vijay Narayan, appearing on behalf of the State, pointed out that the State had taken the decision based on the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on July 29, according to which religious congregations are strictly prohibited.
He added that only celebrations in public places have been banned and that individuals can celebrate in their homes and worship at small temples, which have been allowed to reopen.
The PIL was filed by B Ramasamy, a practicing advocate and state secretary of the Desiya Chinthanai Kazhagam, seeking a direction to the government to permit Vinayagar Chathurthi celebrations by issuing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Citing the examples of States such as Maharashtra and Karnataka that had permitted the celebrations, he prayed the court for the above direction.