No restriction on using residential home for religious prayers: Karnataka HC

The High Court of Karnataka has dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by some residents of HBR Layout, Bengaluru, alleging that a residential property was being used for prayers.

The Division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice MGS Kamal dismissing the PIL recently said, “Inspite of our repeated queries the counsel was unable to show any such prohibition, prevention in the rules of law, prohibiting an occupant to utilise the residential place for offering prayer.”

The judgement copy is yet to be released by the Court.

Sam P Philip, Krishna SK, Jagaeesan TP and five other residents of HBR Layout, had approached the Court against the Housing and Urban Development Department, BBMP and Masjid E-Ashrafit over the issue. Their petition was subsequently converted to a PIL.

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It was contended that a residential area was being used as a prayer hall causing disturbance to the neighbours. The matter had reached the Court once before when the Masjid Trust had constructed a building without the approval of the BBMP.

The Court had directed that the building for a Madarasa could be constructed only after obtaining necessary sanction from the BBMP. The building was then constructed and being used as a Madarasa for poor children. The PIL was filed after the new building came up on the property.

While dismissing the PIL, the Court noted that the “Counsel for the petitioner was unable to show any such specific prohibition and repeated his submission that using the residential area for offering prayer as a masjid is violation of the rules. Further (he) repeatedly submitted that as there may be a large gathering of people, the petitioners and residents apprehend disturbance. These submissions neither stand reasons, logic or law.”

During the hearing of the PIL, the Court took strong exception to the submission made by the counsel for the petitioners that there was a risk posed by conducting prayers.

“We are not permitting such statements. This is something to which we have strong objections, you cannot make a statement so casually. You have no right to make such sweeping statements. One can only say that there is some violation of rules, please as the authorities. How can you say someone offering prayer is a threatening activity?” the Court cautioned.

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