The Delhi High Court today allowed up to 50 people to offer namaz five times a day in Bangley Wali Masjid of Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi, which has been closed since (March 23, 2020) last year due to several FIRs against a Tablighi Jamat congregation amid the Covid-19 pandemic due to the lack of any affidavit clarifying the Centre's and Delhi Police's positions on the issue as ordered by the court earlier.
On a case brought by the Delhi Waqf Board requesting permission to hold prayers during Ramadan, a single judge bench led by Justice Mukta Gupta issued the order.
While issuing the order, the Court stated that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority's Standard Operating Protocol, dated (April 10, 2021), must be followed. Adv. Rajat Nair, representing the Centre and the Delhi Police, “asked the Court to make the order conditional on all other orders issued by the relevant authority, as orders are awaited, on the issue of religious gatherings”.
As a result, the Court has directed that its order be immune to any other notice issued by the competent authority on religious places and gatherings. However, Sr. Adv. Ramesh Gupta, representing the Delhi Waqf Board, “argued that while up to 50 people were allowed on the only floor that was operating at the time, the masjid has more floors and at least 50 people should be allowed on each of them”. "These restrictions are applicable across the board, they are not just for one premise," the Centre argued in response to the demand.
"You shall be able to apply in this respect before the competent authority," Justice Gupta said to the Board's counsel.
"This order had to be passed only because other places are accessible," she said, adding, "but you must understand that the situation in Delhi is grim."
At the previous hearing, the Centre and Delhi Police were ordered to state their positions on the issue by affidavit, but no such affidavit was filed today. The court cited a Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) regulation from (June 2020) that is still in effect, noting that although the notification limited religious congregations, there was no limitation on religious places, and thus the court could not deny Markaz's application because other religious places operated on a certain permissible power. The SHO of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Police Station had previously submitted to the court in an inspection report that only up to 20 persons could be accommodated inside the mosque while keeping social distance as per Covid-19 safety protocol. A joint inspection of the premises had been ordered by the court.