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Don’t display religion in hsg societies
Court rules that housing society members cannot hold any function that could cause ‘unrest and enmity’

By Anand Holla, 06, 2009, Mumbai Mirror

If it’s a religious function you plan to celebrate in your housing society, take care to not offend sentiments of other residents.

Upholding a trial court’s order disallowing an Oshiwara family from celebrating a contentious religious event in the society premises, the State Co-operative Appellate Court recently passed an order noting that a society premises cannot be used for holding religious functions that cause ‘unrest and enmity’ between communities.

In a precedent-setting order, which Mumbai Mirror first reported on February 23, the trial court (city co-operative court) had disallowed the Mirza family from celebrating a religious function in the society as other members found it hurtful. The court asked the family to celebrate in their house instead.

The tiff between Mariam Mirza, resident of Al Safa Co-operative Housing Society at Oshiwara’s Millat Nagar, and other members of the society dates back to 2005. The first clash between the society members (almost all are Sunni Muslims) and Mirza (a Shia Muslim), occurred when Mirza organised a function, soon after Muharram, in the society’s premises. Mirza and her husband Shakir held a recital of tabbarrah (words against enemies of Allah, Prophet Mohammad and the Prophet’s family) on loudspeakers, “badly hurting” sentiments of other residents. Mirza’s son Aqeel even apologised in writing to broker peace.

On July 20, 2008, Mirza sought the society’s consent to use the premises for a religious function. But at a special general body meeting, the society passed a resolution disallowing the holding of religious functions.

In January this year, Mirza moved the trial court against the resolution, pleading that he should be allowed to hold religious functions in the premises. Meanwhile, he also moved an urgent interim plea, seeking consent to hold a specific religious function in the society’s premises, which the court dismissed. Mirza then appealed before the State Co-operative Appellate Court. Lawyer Mubin Solkar, who represented the society of 56 flats, maintained that Mirza’s earlier functions had disturbed the Sunni community and the society was forced to disallow such events to maintain peace.

P G Jagdale, president of the State Co-operative Appellate Court, observed, “The special general body meeting was called in view of the managing committee’s decision not to permit holding of religious ceremonies. The communal rift between Shias and Sunnis is well known. Thereby, it was necessary for the committee, to have a unanimous decision of the said meeting, which was presided over by the chairman.”

The judge upheld the trial court’s order and reiterated, “A common place of a society cannot be permitted for religious functions which cause unrest and enmity.”

Holding that no prima facie case exists in Mirza’s favour, the court dismissed Mirza’s petition. Solkar said that this landmark decision will have a strong bearing on similar disputes other societies in the city face.


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