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Overview

  • On 30th April 2021, while passing an order in the case of, Ramasamy Udayar V. The District Collector and Ors, the Honorable Madras High Court observed that any procession including religious procession cannot be prohibited or curtailed merely because another religious group is residing or doing business in the area predominantly.

Background Of The Case

  • Since 1951, there has been a dispute between the Hindus and Muslims of V. Kalathur village regarding the usage of 96 cents of Government Poramboke land.
  • Muslims wanted the common usage of the land however, the Hindus objected to the same.
  • There have been many clashes between both the groups regarding the same and they have filed many cases before and police complaints.
  • However, till the year 2011, there were no issues in connection with the procession of certain Hindu festivals and the three-day festival of three temples took place every year till 2011.
  • But from 2012, the Muslims started objecting to some Hindu Festivals and called them Sins.
  • They also contended that the Area was a Muslim Majority area.
  • Between the years 2012 to 2015, though the Hindu Festival did take place there were certain restrictions put forth by the Court in light of all the petitions filed objecting to the Festivals.
  • In 2018, the Revenue Divisional Officer, granted to conduct the Festival with certain conditions under section 144 of the Cr. P.C and in turn this grant was challenged in the High Court.
  • The Madras High Court also allowed the conduct of these festivals with certain conditions; however, the decision was again challenged and finally reached before the present bench.

Observations Of The Court

  • The Bench was comprised of Honorable Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice P. Velmurugan.
  • The Court first of all in the present case observed that, following Section 180-A of the District Municipalities Act 1920, roads and streets should be accessible for everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, etc.
  • The Court also said that, merely because one religious group is dominating in a particular locality, it cannot be a ground to prohibit from celebrating religious festivals or taking processions of other religious groups through those roads. If it is to be accepted, then a day will come when a particular religious group that is predominantly occupying the area, will not allow the people belonging to other religious groups even to use the roads even for movement, transportation, or normal access. Even marriage processions and funeral processions would be prohibited which is not good for our society.
  • The Court also observed the fact that till now there have been religious tolerance and the religious were conducted very smoothly but now if such intolerance towards different religion is allowed that it will not be good for a secular country like ours.
  • The Bench also observed that, if resistance is being exhibited by one religious group and it is reciprocated by the other religious groups then there would be chaos, riots, religious fights causing loss of lives and destruction of properties and ultimately the Secular charter of our country will be destroyed.

Order of the Court

  • The Court declared that all the road and streets which are secular should be used as roads under Section 180-A of the District Municipalities Act by all the people irrespective of caste, religion, etc.
  • The Court also declared that any procession including religious procession shall be conducted through all the roads and streets without any restriction.
  • The Court declared that any procession including religious procession cannot be prohibited or curtailed merely because another religious group is residing or doing business in the area predominantly
  • The Court declared that there cannot be a prohibition for any procession including religious processions through roads by the District administration or police authorities and there can be only regulation by the police or other Governmental authorities to see that no untoward incident occurs or any law and order problem arises.
  • The Court in the present case declared that every religious group has got fundamental right to take out a religious procession through all the roads without insulting the other religious sentiments and without raising any slogans against other religious groups, affecting their sentiments, public law, and order.
  • The Court also said that the presence of religious structures/places of worship cannot take away the right of other religious groups who have been enjoying all the rights including the conduct of religious procession for the past many years.
  • Lastly, the Court ordered that the case filed against both the parties is directed to withdrawn.

What do you think about this judgment of Madras High Court? Even after so many years are we still not able to accept and celebrate each other's differences?

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