Punjab & Haryana High Court Refuses to Relax Restrictions on the Functioning of Religious Places

Amid Covid-19 lockdown, Punjab and Haryana High Court approved restrictions on religious places. Meanwhile, the bench comprising of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Ajay Tewari dismissed the petition challenging these restrictions. The bench noticed that the imposition of restrictions on religious places is in the larger public interest; having a reasonable connection with the object desired to achieve.

Explicitly, lawyer and a social activist Mubeen Farooqi approached the High Court; seeking a direction to the center to allow the opening of religious places. Mubeen Farooqi challenged the March 24 guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Guidelines relaxed the lockdown for other purposes but not for religious places. The restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs do not violate any fundamental or legal rights of the petitioner. The Court opined that the objective of the Ministry of Home Affairs is to break the cycle by maintaining social distancing.

Notably, the bench held that to safeguard the health of the society, restrictions have been imposed by closing all the places of worship for the public. The closing of religious places of worship during the period of transmission of Coronavirus; it is a regulation and not prohibition. Consequently, the court refused to direct the State Government to relax the restrictions on the opening of religious places.