Centre and Delhi Police directed to open for all Banglawali Masjid within the Markaz
NEW DELHI — Rejecting proposal of authorities to limit the number of worshippers to 20, the Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Centre and Delhi Police to open Banglawali Masjid at Nizamuddin Markaz of Tablighi Jamaat for all during Ramzan in accordance with the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Covid-19 guidelines for religious places.
The government had suggested that 20 people should be allowed to enter the mosque at a time out of police-verified list of 200 people
Justice Mukta Gupta observed that since no other religious place has fixed devotees, Markaz Nizammuddin mosque should also be an open place for all and a specific list of 200 persons cannot be given by anyone.
“A 200-people list is not acceptable; that cannot be. Yes, you will measure the exact area of the mosque, how much it is and tell me, as per social distancing norms, how many people can come in that mosque and so we will permit that at a time only this much number will be there. Nobody can give the names. No religious place be asked for the names…,” said the court, as per a report in the Indian Express. “Your grievance may be to the visitors residing therein. At the moment, we are opening for the Namaz — the person coming, offering Namaz and then going out”.
As per the order issued by the court, the central government’s counsel stated that in view of the Ramazan, the mosque can be made operational subject to DDMA guidelines ensuring social distancing norms and that the names of the mosque management committee be furnished by Delhi Waqf Board to the local police station.
The order also underlined the statement of the counsel representing Delhi Waqf Board saying that a joint inspection of the mosque will be carried out by SHO of Police Station Hazrat Nizamuddin and office-bearers of the mosque in the presence of the Waqf Board member Himal Akhter and advocate Wajeeh Shafiq.
“The exercise of measuring the area of the mosque where the devotees can offer namaz five times in the day will be carried out today itself and as per the guidelines issued by the DDMA, keeping the distances required to be maintained, blocks will be made at the place where the prayer mats can be put for the devotees to offer Namaz,” reads the order.
Earlier, advocate Rajat Nair, representing the centre, had suggested a proposal urging the court to direct Markaz to compile a list of 200 people who would be allowed to enter and pray inside the mosque, 20 at a time. Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, representing the Delhi Waqf Board, argued that it was not possible to compile such a list but added that the Markaz will ensure the covid-19 protocol is followed.
Justice Gupta asked Nair whether the authorities have curtailed the gathering to 20 at any religious places by virtue of notifications for guidelines for religious places. Nair replied that no such limits have been set. However, added that regarding Markaz Nizamuddin there is “another issue”.
The court said that it is left to authorities to ensure norms are followed. “It has to be commensurate to the place available for worship,” observed Justice Gupta
The court also did not give weight to Nair’s request that somebody should monitor the place as it is a “case property”. The court said that nobody was going to remove the building pertinent to land and that nobody was hindering the investigation.
The Delhi Waqf Board, however, agreed to Nair’s submission that CCTV cameras be installed at the Markaz premises.
Markaz Nizamuddin, which houses a mosque and a Madrassa, is locked since March 2020 when it emerged as one of the initial coronavirus hotspots in the country triggering panic and public outcry. The government responded strongly by quarantining the attendees for months, filing criminal cases against Markaz administration, filing cases against foreign Tablighi members in different states over alleged violation of visa norms.
The petition by the Waqf Board said that the general public was not allowed to enter the mosque, the students were not allowed to continue their education at Madrassa and the hostel was also out of bounds for its inmates.
It added the police have locked entire premises ostensibly in connection with FIR against Markaz filed on March 31 last year but without any formal seal. The locality around Markaz was removed from the containment zone list in September last year.