A bench in Madras High Court led by Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice P. Velumurugan observed that allowing religious intolerance is not good for a secular country. The bench was hearing a petition concerning the conduct of temple processions by villagers in V Kalathur, Tamil Nadu’s Perambalur district, on a predetermined road, which local Muslims had objected to. Since 1951, a conflict had erupted between Hindus and Muslims over the use of Government land in Poramboke. The Muslims requested that the land can be used as commonplace and the Hindus objected to it.
However, until 2011, there was no problem with the celebration of certain Hindu festivals, and the three temples’ three-day festivals were held in harmony. Since 2012, Muslims have objected to some Hindu festivals, calling them sins and claiming that the areas are ruled by the Muslim community.
The Revenue Divisional Officer issued an order in 2018 that effectively permitted the festivals to take place, subject to certain conditions, which were challenged in the High Court. Though allowing the festivals to take place, the Madras High Court imposed certain conditions, which were later challenged before the Division Bench. “If religious intolerance is going to be allowed, it is not good for a secular country. Intolerance in any form by any religious group has to be curtailed and prohibited,” the bench said.
The Court stated at the outset stated that under Section 180-A of the District Municipalities Act 1920, roads or streets should be used as access to the streets for all people, regardless of religion, caste, or creed. Advertisement In addition to allowing the three-day festival of the village’s three temples, the Division Bench placed certain conditions, including a directive to the authorities to allow Hindus to conduct two processions on the first and second days of the village temple festivals across all streets and roads, as they had done until 2015. In terms of the procession on the third day of the temple festival, the petitioner admitted that Hindus would not lead the procession in which turmeric water would be sprinkled. “India is a secular country and merely because one religious group is living in majority in a particular area, it cannot be a reason for not allowing other religious festivals or processions through that area. If the contention of the private respondent is to be accepted, then it would create a situation in which “minority people cannot conduct any festival or procession in most of the areas in India,” the court added.