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Madras HC allows a controlled Vinayaka Chaturthi puja

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New Delhi: The Madras High Court has allowed the immersion of idols, following puja of Vinayaka Chaturthi, in water bodies. The court also allowed installation of idols outside their homes. The court was reacting to a petition which sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to permit Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations in the state.

A two-judge bench of Justice M.M. Sundresh and Justice R. Hemalatha, however, made it clear that individuals permitted to immerse the statues would at best go to the water body, drop the statue and come back. There is no question of staying back.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by B Ramaswamy, an advocate. The bench observed that the court could take judicial notice of the fact that the spread of COVID-19 is fast and its potency to affect the persons with co-morbid conditions is high.     

The petitioners asserted that they do not wish to partake in any public procession, that they would not insist on mass processions or mass immersions, and that they would extend the fullest cooperation with the state to ensure the smooth conduct of the religious practices.

Appearing for the Tamil Nadu Government, Advocate General Vijay Narayan submitted that the state government had issued a GO dated August 14 wherein it had not banned the celebration but had only issued restrictions such as installation of idols in public places, procession and immersion of statues in water bodies on account of COVID-19 pandemic. People were advised to celebrate the festival at home. Small temples were, however, open with directions that visitors adhere to COVID-19 norms, including the wear of a facemask.

The court is of the view that though the petitioner pleaded his case of religious practices and sentiments, the court was of the considered opinion that the religious practices and sentiments should yield before the practical difficulties of COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic would spread when more people congregate and stay back in a place, the court said.

– India Legal Bureau

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