Mumbai: Observing that the current situation was “not at all conducive” to reopening of places of worship, the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to pass any interim order directing that temples in Maharashtra be opened for public.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice P V Tavade said the COVID-19 situation in the state had not improved and people must therefore, pray at home. The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed through advocate Dipesh Siroya seeking that the Maharashtra government be directed to reopen temples for public.
The state government could open temples and allow only a limited number of worshippers at a time in accordance with its COVID-19 lockdown guidelines, Siroya argued.
The bench, however, asked Siroya which temple he considered personally, to be the “biggest?”
“The biggest temple is humanity,” Siroya said.
To which, the bench responded saying, “If you have any love for humanity, do not press for such prayers then.”
“For the love and safety of humanity, pray at home,” it said.
The state government pointed out that on August 12, it had submitted a detailed reply before another bench of the high court explaining how COVID-19 cases were still on the rise and that opening temples or any other places of worship was not feasible currently.
The state government said it had prohibited public gatherings for celebrations for Gudi Padwa and Janmashtami, and people had been asked to pray at home.
When Siroya pointed out that several other states had reopened some places of worship, and that the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra was improving, the bench said, it did not think the situation had improved.
“If the situation improves, this temple of justice will be the first to open its doors to the public. The current situation is not at all conducive to opening doors (of places of worship) to the public,” it said.