The Centre on Monday defended its decision to continue restrictions at the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in Delhi, Live Law reported. The Union home ministry told the Delhi High Court that the restrictions were essential as the case involved cross-border implications and diplomatic relations with other countries.
The Nizamuddin Markaz has been closed since March 31 last year. A Tablighi Jamaat congregation that took place at the venue was blamed for thousands of coronavirus infections around the country in the initial weeks of the nationwide lockdown which began on March 25, 2020.
The event had renewed stigma against Muslims, triggering a wave of business boycotts and hate speech.
In February, the Delhi Waqf Board had filed a petition seeking permission to open the premises. In the previous hearing on the matter, the High Court had pulled up the Centre for delay in filing its response to the plea. The court had posted the matter for Monday after the Centre sought more time to submit its response.
In its response filed on Monday, the Union home ministry said that it was necessary to preserve the Nizamuddin Markaz premises for the purpose of abiding by Section 310 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The section mandates that during trial of a case, a judge or magistrate may visit a place where an offence has allegedly been committed.
“In view of the seriousness of the case which has trans-border implication and diplomatic consideration it is just and necessary that the case property in such a case is preserved in letter and spirit so that due process of law in dealing with such cases is followed,” the Centre submitted.
The Centre also opposed the Delhi Waqf Board’s submission that the restrictions violated fundamental rights of devotees under Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom to practice religion.
The government said that the authorities had allowed five persons to offer namaaz at the mosque five times a day, Live Law reported. It cited a High Court order which hadallowed 50 devotees to offer prayers during the holy Islamic month of Ramzaan.
The Centre contended that these relaxations in restrictions ensured that there was no violation of fundamental rights in the case.