Collector’s Node required to carry on Religious Activities

Two kinds of permissions are required to carry on any religious activities in a building in Kerala. One is prior permission from the Collector of that District and the other is the permission from the Secretary of the local body in that area under the state’s building rules.

In order to empower the District Collector with power to sanction permission in this regard, the State Government has issued G.O. (P) No. 217/05/Home dated 25th July, 2005 to prevent and control the communal disturbances and to promote communal harmony, as per the direction of the Government of India. The Guideline is referred to in some judgements as Manual of Guidelines to Prevent and Control Communal Disturbances and to Promote Communal Harmony 2005. The Clause 23 of the Manual prohibits religious performance, without obtaining sanction of the District Collector.

Since the year 1984, the Kerala Building Rules are applicable to the construction of buildings in the urban areas falling under the municipalities in the State. Since 6th June 2006, Kerala Municipal Buildings Rules 1984 were made applicable to the rural areas under the Grama Panchayath by invoking Section 274 of the Kerala Panchayath Raj Act, 1994.

On and with effect from 21st June 2010, the Section 7 of the Kerala Municipality Building Rules was amended to include a Sub Rule 6B. The Sub Section 7 ( 6B) states that for construction or reconstruction of a building meant for religious purpose or worship prior approval or clearance or permission and concurrence of the District Collector shall be obtained and the conditions stipulated in the Manual of Guidelines to prevent and control communal disturbances and to promote communal harmony, must be followed.

Though the amendment to the Section 7 (6B) of the Kerala Municipality Act was enacted only on 21st June 2010, the Manual was in force in the state since 25th July 2005. Therefore, the stipulations have been applicable to any building carrying on religious activities since 2005.

The Manual was introduced in order to prevent and control communal disturbances leading to loss of lives and properties and to promote communal amity. The Manual was issued in continuation of similar orders issued on 9th October 2001 and 16 January 2022 in Kerala State.

The Manual states that the District Collector, while permitting construction of religious buildings should ensure that the construction should in no way precipitate communal tension.

Therefore, the permission given by the Secretary of the local body for the construction of a building as per the buildings rules alone is not sufficient to conduct religious activities in any building in the state. The prior permission of the District Collector is inevitable for carrying on religious activities in any building including the one originally sanctioned for other purposes and later converted for religious purposes.

Additional Reading

  1. Abdul Jaleel P.M Vs. State of Kerala & others (2022 (5) KHC 448)
  2. Saju K.Paul v State Of Kerala (WP(C) No 26472 of 2012)
  3. Vicar v Mundur Grama Panchayath (WP(C) No 30063 of 2016)