The Delhi High Court on Wednesday allowed the reopening of the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque to allow Muslims to offer prayers for the Shab-e-Barat festival, PTI reported. The court also removed the restriction on the number of people allowed inside the three-storey building.
The Nizamuddin Markaz has been closed since March 31, 2020, after a Tablighi Jamaat congregation that took place at the venue was blamed for thousands of coronavirus infections around the country.
The religious conference had taken place on March 9 and March 10 in 2020 in Delhi’s densely populated Nizamuddin area. The countrywide lockdown was imposed in India on March 25 of the same year.
The Delhi Waqf Board had filed a petition in February last year seeking permission to open the premises for the Shab-e-Barat and next month’s Ramzan festival. In the last hearing on March 15, the Centre had told the court that it can allow people to offer prayers in case an application seeking permission is filed before the police.
The board had filed an application on the same day, which was subsequently accepted by the Delhi Police. However, the police had imposed several conditions, including limiting the number of devotees to 100 per floor.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri said the mosque management will ensure that Covid-19 protocols are followed. He also questioned the rationale behind limiting the number of devotees to 100 people by Delhi Police.
“Whose guesswork [the number] was it?” Justice Ohri asked, according to the Hindustan Times. “Has there been a restriction on the number of people? Where is the order of restrictions on the number? Once they say that they will maintain Covid protocol, then it is fine. It should be left to the wisdom of the devotees.”
While the police in its order mentioned no “Tablighi” activities will be permitted, the court replaced the condition saying that the reopening is only for holding namaz and other religious prayers.
The court said that the ground floor and three other floors of the mosque will be opened at 12 pm on Thursday, a day prior to the Shab-e-Barat festival and will be closed the next day at 4 pm, according to The Indian Express.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 31 to decide on the reopening of the mosque during the Ramzan festival.