‘With a heavy heart’, Allahabad HC declines permission to hold Muharram processions

The Allahabad High Court Saturday declined permission to hold the Moharram Processions in Uttar Pradesh.

The Court was ruling on a batch of petitions challenging the decision of the UP Government prohibiting members of the Shia community to take out Moharram Processions.

A division bench of Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Shamim Ahmed said-

“It is with a heavy heart that we hold that in these testing times, it is not possible to lift the prohibition by providing any guidelines for regulating the mourning rituals/practice connected with the 10th day of Moharram”.

The bench added that, despite lockdowns, the pandemic is spreading like a wildfire.

“We are standing naked at the shore and don’t know when the huge wave of Corona may sweep us into the deep sea. We really don’t know what tomorrow holds. Adoption of safe practices are needed to win over the health crisis. We need to understand the Art of living with the Corona Virus”, the bench said.

It held that the fundamental right to practice and propagate religion has been made subject to public order, morality and health, under the Constitution of India.

Referring to the Covid-19 cases in UP, the court said that the Covid-19 transmission in UP is alarmingly high.

The HC distinguished the Supreme Court’s order in the Puri Rath Yatra case from the present circumstances. It said that the apex court had not passed any general directions and had only granted permission to carry out the Annual Chariot Procession (Rath Yatra) at a specific place, in Puri, only from one point to another. This was contextualised with the intensity of COVID-19 spread in Orissa by the Hon’ble Apex Court.

Before parting with the case, the court stated-

“We must hope and trust that God would perceive our restraint in our customary practices, not as a slight, but as an act of compassion for our brothers and sisters and give us the opportunity to celebrate all festivals with greater faith and fervour in future”.

“It is only together with cooperation, understanding and support, we as ‘One Nation’, can emerge stronger from these treacherous times and overcome this season of darkness”, the court emphasised.

Earlier the Supreme Court declined to permit Muharram processions across India claiming that it could not pass a general order for the whole country. However, the Bombay High Court on Friday granted permission for Moharram Processions in Mumbai with stringent COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Read Allahabad High Court Order