The Supreme Court on Thursday refused permission for Muharram processions across the country, saying it would lead to chaos and targeting of a particular community amid the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported.

“If we allow this, there will be chaos and one particular community will be targeted for spreading Covid,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said. “We don’t want that. We as a court cannot risk the health of all the people.”

The bench, also comprising of AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said a general order of this nature cannot be passed for the whole country because of the coronavirus crisis, according to Bar and Bench.

The top court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Syed Kalbe Jawad from Uttar Pradesh, seeking permission for Muharram processions on Saturday and Sunday across the country. Jawad cited the court’s previous orders allowing the annual Rath Yatra at the Jagannath temple in Odisha and permission to offer prayers in select Jain temples in Mumbai.

“You are giving Jagannath Puri example, there it was in one place and one set route where the Rath had to be drawn,” the court said. “We could assess the risk involved and pass the specific order for only Puri. In Jain Temple matter, it was for three temples only and five people at a time...”

When the petitioner sought permission for a procession in Lucknow, saying that a large number of Muslims of the Shia community live in the city, the court directed him to approach the Allahabad High Court.

Last week, the Bombay High Court quashed three FIRs against 35 petitioners – 29 of them foreign nationals – who attended a Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin in March and travelled from there to different parts of India. The congregation was blamed for thousands of coronavirus infections around the country in the initial weeks of the nationwide lockdown which began on March 25.

The court had said in its judgement that the foreigners had been made “scapegoats” and that the action against them was an “indirect warning to Indian Muslims” after the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.