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Key Takeaways

● Intolerance by any religious community, in any form, must be curtailed and outlawed.

● One religious community is the majority in a given area cannot be used to prevent other religious festivals or processions

● Under Section 180-A of the District Municipalities Act 1920, all citizens, regardless of faith, caste, or creed, should have access to roads or streets.

● The roads and streets that are "secular" should be used as roads by all citizens, regardless of their faith, caste, or creed

Introduction

"It is not healthy for a democratic nation if religious bigotry is tolerated. Intolerance by any religious community, in any form, must be curtailed and outlawed.

The Madras High Court recently made this observation. A dispute involving a long-standing dispute between Hindu and Muslim residents (in a village) over the conduct of certain Hindu festivals/Religious Procession was before the bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice P. Velumurugan.

"India is a secular country, and the fact that one religious community is the majority in a given area cannot be used to prevent other religious festivals or processions from passing through that area."

Facts

From 1951 to the present, there has been a disagreement between the two religious groups over the use of 96 per cent of Government Poramboke territory. While the Muslims wanted the land to be used as commonplace, the Hindus argued that Poramboke land had been used for a long time and objected to it being used in this way.

As a result of this, there have been several disputes between the two religious organizations over the said platform, resulting in several lawsuits being filed against both groups.

However, until 2011, there was no problem with the conduct of some Hindu festivals, and three-day temple festivals were held without incident. Muslims only began objecting to some Hindu festivals in 2012, calling them sins and claiming that the areas were ruled by Muslims.

The festivals did take place between 2012 and 2015, but with restrictions imposed by the Court via various orders in response to petitions filed objecting to the festivals' behaviour.

Furthermore, in 2018, the Revenue Divisional Officer issued an order enabling the festivals to be held, subject to certain conditions, which were challenged in the High Court.

Though allowing the festivals to take place, the Madras High Court imposed certain conditions, which were later challenged before the Division Bench (present matter).

Court’s Order

The Court stated at the outset that, under Section 180-A of the District Municipalities Act 1920, all citizens, regardless of faith, caste, or creed, should have access to roads or streets. The Court also noticed that there had been religious harmony throughout and that religious festivals and the religious procession had gone off without a hitch through all of the village's streets and highways.

Simply because one religious group is dominant in a given area does not justify prohibiting the celebration of religious festivals or the procession of other religious groups along such paths. If it is approved, a day will come when a specific religious community that dominates the region will refuse to allow people from other religious groups to use the roads for anything other than movement, transportation, or regular access.

The temples have been there for decades. Simply because a religious group has established itself in a community and has become vocal, they cannot object to the custom of taking the Temple procession along all of the Village's streets, nor can the customary and traditional activities be stopped or forbidden as a result of their objections.

If one religious group shows opposition and the other religious groups respond, there will be anarchy, protests, and religious wars, resulting in the deaths of people and the destruction of property. As a result, our country's secular character will be harmed or lost.

The roads and streets that are "secular" should be used as roads by all citizens, regardless of their faith, caste, or creed, once they have been designated by the authorities as roads or streets under Section 180-A of the District Municipalities Act.

Any procession, including a religious procession, must be allowed to proceed freely through all roads and streets. Any procession, including a religious procession, cannot be prohibited or limited solely because another religious group primarily resides or conducts business in the city.


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