In a setback, the Allahabad High Court, on Saturday dismissed a batch of petitions seeking permission to take out Tazia procession during Muharram. The division bench comprising of Justices SK Gupta and Shamim Ahmed said that the complete prohibition of practices that are essential to our religions is part of an unprecedented COVID-19 situation. Previously, the SC had refused to pass guidelines to allow Muharram processions.
The petitioners had opposed the UP Government order which had prohibited Tazia Procession in Muharram in the state as it may not be able to observe social distancing norms. The petitioner had compared the situation to the Election commission allowing five persons to do door to door campaign during COVID 19 pandemic, as per reports. The bench refused to pass orders maintaining that 'only through cooperation, understanding and support the nation can emerge stronger from these treacherous times', as per reports.
On Thursday, a three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice V Ramasubramanian refused to grant permission for Muharram processions in India. Observing that there will be chaos if these processions are allowed, the CJI added that a particular community might be targeted for spreading COVID-19. When the petitioner - Syed Kalbe Jawad asked for Muharram processions to be allowed at least in Lucknow, the SC disallowed this request and advised him to approach the Allahabad High Court in this regard.
On the other hand, the Bombay High Court granted permission for a Muharram procession from Bhendi Bazaar to the Shia cemetery in Byculla in the city with stringent restrictions in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the court's order, members of the Shia Muslim community will be permitted to carry out the procession on August 30, between 4.30 pm and 5.30 pm on one pre-determined route only by trucks and not on foot. A maximum of five persons will be allowed on a truck and only five will be permitted walk with the 'Tazia' symbol for the last 100 meters on the selected route, the order stated. The five participants of the procession will have to give their home addresses to the Mumbai police beforehand.