The Supreme Court on Friday allowed devotees to offer Paryushan prayers in three Jain temples in Mumbai’s Dadar, Byculla and Chembur neighbourhoods for two days amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

All devotees are expected to follow social distancing rules and should use face masks. The court pointed out that no permission for prayers would be given for any other temple in Mumbai. It also said it would not go into the larger issue of religious gatherings during the lock down as the matter remains pending before the Bombay High Court.“We must make it clear that the order, in this case, does not extend to any other trust or any other temples. Our order is not intended to apply in any other case, particularly which involves large congregations of people which by their very nature cannot be controlled. We accordingly permit the petitioners to perform their prayers at temples of Dadar, Byculla and Chembur for the remaining days of Paryushan,” the bench said in its order.

During the hearing, CJI Bobde also criticized the Maharashtra Government for allowing the opening of malls and other economic activity but not temples.“I find it very strange that every activity they are allowing involves economic activity. They are willing to take the risk if money is involved but if it is religious then they say there is COVID-19 and we can’t do this,” Justice Bobde added.

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Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, opposed the appeal and said that it is for the interest of the state which would be at great difficulty in managing the situation.The Shri Parshwatilak Shwetamber Murtipujak Tapagacch Jain Trust had earlier moved the top court to let them pray at Jain temples in the city during the e-Paryushan period, which is a significant period for the Jain community.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, was hearing an appeal against the Bombay High Court order which stated that it did not wish to interfere with the state’s decision of not to permit Jain temples in Mumbai to open for devotees to mark the eight-day Paryushan festival from August 15 to 23 in view of the Covid- 19 pandemic.

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