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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took up a plea seeking permission to carry out Muharram procession in a limited manner in the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian allowed petitioner Sipte Mohammad to implead all 28 state governments as party in the matter within a period of four weeks.

The petitioner has moved the top court seeking a direction to allow the conduct of Muharram procession by the Shia Muslim community. In the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on large gatherings.

Wasi Haider, the counsel appearing for the petitioner, contended before the bench that the permission is sought for the procession where only five participants would be allowed, ensuring that safety norms are followed.

The bench observed that the petitioner has not made all the state governments parties in the matter. The state governments are empowered to enforce the Centre’s guidelines under the Disaster Management Act.

The top court noted that it needed to hear the state governments before it passed any order in the matter. The bench said the procession would take place in various states and it cannot pass orders without hearing them.

On August 21, the apex court had allowed Jain community temples in Dadar, Byculla and Chembur in Mumbai to remain open for worshippers on the last two days of Paryushan on August 22 and 23 to allow the devotees to worship the Jain Tirthankaras.

The Sri Parshwatilak Shwetambar Murtipujak Jain Trust had moved the apex court against the August 14 order of the Bombay High Court declining permission to allow offering of prayers during the Paryushan period.

The bench had insisted that there is no harm if prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs) are followed. The apex court said that the permission given to the Jain temples should not become a precedent for demands for permission for Ganpati festival or any other religious festival coming up in Maharashtra.

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Indo-Asian News Service or IANS is a private Indian news agency. The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service

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