The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court on September 6, 2019, in the case of Babu v. The State of Maharashtra and Others has allowed a Hindu to observe Moharrum at his house by observing that “Inside of the house, a person of any religion may follow and practice other religion also even if he belongs to particular religion.”
In this case, the petitioner filed a petition seeking directions to be issued to the Maharashtra Police to allow him to observe Moharrum festival at his home on 10-9-2019.
The Police had refused to allow him to observe Moharrum vide notice issued under Section 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. As per the notice, the festival of Moharrum was not being observed in the village for many years and that the petitioner wanted to observe the festival by installing 'Dola' which would amount to insulting the religion as well as the festival.
Quashing the notice issued under Section 149 CrPC, the court observed that every citizen of the country has right to propagate and manage the religious affairs under Articles 19, 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India. This includes the right to observe festivals.
"The persons of one religion participate in religious functions of other religions. In Maharashtra there is a practice that Muslim people participate in Ganesh festival, Diwali festival etc. and Hindus participate in Moharrum, Eid and like festivals. This practice is irrespective of the belief in a particular religion and this is due to the relations that the citizens have developed with each other. Further, inside of the house, a person of any religion may follow and practice other religion also even if he belongs to particular religion. Most of the persons who visit Ajmer Dargah are Hindus. They offer prayers there. They gift chaddar and this is being done even by persons holding higher posts in this country. Many Hindus observe fast in Ramzan month. In most part of Maharashtra both Hindus and Muslims participate in Moharrum,” the Division Bench of Justices T.V. Nalawade and R.G. Avachat observed after hearing both the parties.
The Bench said: “This mixing the persons of different religions need to be increased in a country like India. It is unfortunate that the present petitioner is warned of action if he installs Dola inside of his house and observes Moharrum inside of his house. As already observed a person can follow religious practices of his choice and it cannot harm the feeling of others and it depends on his own belief.”
In view of the observations made, the court allowed the petition, however, it clarified that the petitioner was only allowed to a private practice and he could not conduct a public function by beating drums or taking out a procession.
The court directed the police authority to ensure that the petitioner was not harassed by anyone from the village and that he be given protection, if necessary.