Volume VI | Issue 11 | November 2019
Guidelines for Places of Worship
Recently, a Church service in Rohini, Delhi was disrupted because the neighbors complained of excessive noise caused by the worshippers. The police arrived and confiscated the sound system used by the congregants which was later released after the Christians had paid a small fine stipulated under the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Rules.
Such instances can easily be avoided by adhering to permissible noise limits prescribed by the Central Government for residential, commercial, industrial and silent zones, respectively.
Another common issue faced by Churches in the states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh is that they are questioned whether they have obtained prior permission for conducting such prayers, even for Christian prayers held in Christian homes.
Just a few weeks ago, a group of religious extremists disrupted a Sunday prayer service at Durgapur, Kheri, Uttar Pradesh and dragged the pastor to the local police station. An FIR was registered against him under sections 153A, 295A and 505(1) of the Indian Penal Code. The Station House Officer alleged that he had failed to obtain the requisite permissions, prior to conducting the prayer service.
It is important for Christians to be aware of their fundamental right to assemble peaceably without arms, guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Besides, there are no laws prevailing in the State of Uttar Pradesh that impose a requirement to obtain prior permission from any authority before holding such prayer services.
Notably, in the State of Tamil Nadu, there is a requirement to obtain prior permission before holding a prayer service for more than 50 members. However, no permission is required to be obtained before holding a house prayer and the police are not supposed to conduct roving inquiries into such house prayers.
Pertinently, the recent Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019 stipulates that a No Objection Certificate must be obtained from the District Collector before making an application to construct a church building. However, these Rules do not apply to already existing church buildings in the State.
To learn more about guidelines pertaining to permissible noise levels and prior permission requirements for places of worship click here.