Why Prayer Room For A Particular Community, You Have Got Places For Worship, Go There And Worship: Gauhati High Court Refuses To Issue Notice In PIL Seeking Prayer Room In Airport
The Gauhati High Court has refused to issue notice in a PIL seeking separate prayer room on the Guwahati Airport. The petitioner filed PIL seeking the accommodation of a prayer room at Guwahati Airport. The petitioner claimed that they had a fundamental right to demand the construction of a prayer room at the airport, given his contention that few airports had accommodated it already.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Susmita Phukan Khaund asked at the outset, "Tell us what should be the nature of the prayer room. Our country is a secular country. Why prayer room for a particular community?"
“Read 25, where does it give right to any citizen to enforce or to seek a writ that in every public institution there should be a prayer room, please tell us or give us one judgment of that aspect. The fact that the government has constructed such prayer rooms in a particular airport or say a few airports, would that give right to every citizen to claim that such prayer rooms should be constructed in all public establishments? Why only airports then? Why only airports, tell us?”, the Court asked the Petitioner who appeared in person.
The petitioner contended that the prayer room was necessary for all individuals, not limited to a particular religious community.
However, the Court questioned the petitioner’s lack of preparedness and challenged the necessity of a prayer room at airports as a fundamental right. The Court again asked, “Is it a fundamental right? You have got places to worship. Go there and worship.”
To which the Petitioner again said that “if there can be smoking zones, there can be a spa…”
The Court explained, “smoking zone is for the purpose that those smoking people should not damage the health of other passengers that is why that area has been left apart, so it is to prevent public harm. What is the public harm being prevented by constructing a prayer room?”
The petitioner again cited the examples of hotels and restaurants being present at the airport. The Court further explained that, “Yes it’s a commercial activity, commercial activity they will do, prayer is not a commercial activity, it’s a religious sentiment. There are worship places, people who are desirous of those religious sentiments can go there and pray.”
The petitioner argued that his prayer timings clashed with the fight timings to which the Court said, “If you are so particular about your prayer then you should choose flight timings according to that, offer your prayers at the appropriate place and then take your flight, that is your choice, the airports give you choice to select your flights timings.”
The Court also asked, "How can this prayer be made or relief be sought for a particular community?".
The petitioner failed to provide a satisfactory legal basis or precedent to support the demand for a prayer room, and the Court was unconvinced that this relief could be sought as a fundamental right. The Court gave 15 days time to the petitioner to prepare and address the Court regarding the relief sought for in this PIL.
Cause Title: Rana Saidur Zaman v. The Union of India & Ors.