Tamil Nadu, August 26th, 2012 : People practicing a particular religion, be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam, cannot be prevented from assembling in a dwelling place for conducting prayers and there is no necessity for them to obtain prior permission from any authority, the Madras High Court Bench here has held.
Justice S. Manikumar passed the ruling while disposing of a writ petition filed by a Pentecost Christian of Colachel in Kanyakumari district to forbear the police and the district administration from initiating any action aimed at preventing him from conducting prayer meetings in his house. The judge, however, clarified that if such prayers led to public nuisance such as noise pollution, then it would always be open to the authorities to take necessary action under the provisions of the relevant statutes such as the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
Further, such action could be taken only after the authorities, on the basis of concrete evidence, arrive at a subjective satisfaction that there had been an infringement of the right of other residents around the dwelling place and therefore they have to step in to maintain public order.
Recording the petitioner’s submission that the police and revenue officials were interfering with the prayers conducted in his house following complaints by neighbours, the judge said that frivolous complaints to restrict the freedom to practice and profess any religion should not be entertained.
As long as the petitioner or the members of his family and others did not indulge in any activity forbidden under law or their actions were not contrary to public order, morality and health or such other restrictions, there could not be any interference with his right to religion, he added. “Nobody shuns a doctor or other nursing staff, who cleans up a patient in a hospital, on the grounds of caste, creed or religion. Differences though exist, nobody would ever think of it. Blood transfused in a hospital is not segregated on the basis of caste, creed or religion.
“Nor the person who requires blood would ever demand it only from a person belonging to his caste, community, creed or religion. If for his survival and existence, a person can consciously believe and accept that all are equal, irrespective of caste, creed, community or religion, then why this hatred and division,” the judge wondered.
He went on to state: “Organs are transplanted. Blood and body have no religion or caste. When the blood and organs of a Hindu can save a Muslim or vice-versa and even a Christian, then why this intolerance?”