A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court against the press release by State of Tamil Nadu by which it had disallowed the installation of Vinayaka idols and procession of the idols for immersion in sea or water bodies.
The petitioner had challenged the government press release dated 13th August 2020, issued by the State of Tamil Nadu instructing people to celebrate the festival indoor, calling it wholly illegal, unreasonable, arbitrary and void and liable to be set aside. The Madras High Court however rejected the plea on August 20th.
The public interest plea before the Apex Court has called the decision of the State Government violative of rights guaranteed under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, as the Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion would include the freedom to practice rituals and ceremonies in accordance with law.
The petition states that from the right to practice religion flows the right to take out religious processions, to install idols and to perform worship and the State Government rather than imposing restrictions has banned the festival celebration altogether. The State Government could have instead framed Regulations formulating detailed guidelines of the requisites that have to be complied with by all organisers.
According to the petitioner, the State Government should have permitted the celebration with adequate safety measures and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The petition has cited the case of Maharashtra, where the State government has permitted the public to celebrate the festival with certain restrictions and conditions, and that of the Puri Rath Yatra, where after considering the importance of age old tradition celebration of Rath Yatra the Apex Court had allowed the procession of Chariots festival with certain conditions (SOP).
The petitioner has therefore requested for an interim order directing a stay on the press release issued by the State of Tamil Nadu, that would enable the citizens to celebrate the festival of Vinayak Chaturthi.
-India Legal Bureau