A petition has been filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the ban on religious gatherings during Christmas and New Year (Kamlesh Jacob and Anr v State). .The petition has been filed by an educationist senior citizen Kamlesh Jacob through advocates Manoj V George, Shilpa Liza George, Akriti Sethi, KM Vignesh Ram and Amit Kumar.It argued that Delhi government has prohibited religious gatherings during festivals even though city's bars, restaurants, auditoriums and movie theatres are allowed to function at either half or full capacity. The petitioner said that the order is violative of his right to equality and freedom of religion guaranteed under Articles 14, 25 and 26 of the Constitution. "All ardent devotees of Christianity who have been undergoing lent season for last 25 days have been prohibited in Delhi from attending Chapel Masses on the eve of Christmas but the citizens are allowed to have gala dinners and commercial activities and shopping etc in Christmas. The selective exclusion of religious places of worship is in violation to Constitutional principles" the plea said. .Jacob further submitted that though the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has allowed religious places to function, it completely prohibited religious gatherings, striking at a citizen's sacrosanct right to profess their religion. "The Circular of the 1st Respondent further referred to the 2nd Respondent's Order No 492, and provided that no religious gatherings and congregations will be allowed and it was extended to gatherings for celebrating Christmas or New Year in NCT Delhi thus bringing Carols services and other Christmas related worship under its umbrella," the petition stated. The petition added that Delhi is the only State in the country to have imposed a blanket ban on religious gatherings, even though Omicron is affecting the entire world."It is needles to point out that the festival of Christmas being the only festival celebrated by Christians across all stated in the country, ought to be permitted in the National Capital territory," it was contended..Meanwhile on Thursday, the DDMA issued a clarification stating that though all the mass gatherings are prohibited in view of the pandemic, religious institutions like temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras will remain open for devotees however they will be subject to strict compliance of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). .According to High Court website, the matter is likely to be heard tomorrow.