The Madras High Court has declined to reconsider a previous order that praised the prevailing religious harmony in the country while imposing a fine of Rs 25,000 on K Gopinath, the president of Hindu Munnetra Kazhagam (HMK), for initiating legal action against the construction of a mosque in Chennai.
Chief Justice Sanjay V Gangapurwala and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy, constituting the First Division Bench, dismissed Gopinath's review petition against the 17 April 2023 decision by a Division Bench consisting of the then Acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice Chakravarthy.
In its response, the bench led by the Chief Justice emphasised that the Division Bench had already assessed the petitioner's standing and considered the aspect of religious harmony in India.
The review petition, it asserted, did not present any new grounds and could not be entertained as an appeal in disguise.
"The jurisdiction of this court in review is in a narrow compass and can be exercised only upon an error apparent on the face of the record. There is no error apparent on the face of the record. In view of the above, the review application is dismissed," the Chief Justice wrote.
The original order on 17 April criticised the petitioner, a resident of Tiruppur, for opposing the construction of a mosque in Chennai without providing a clear explanation of the harm caused by converting an Arabic college into a mosque.
The bench noted that the petitioner's concerns were baseless and highlighted the constitutional support for religious harmony.
It cited examples of coexistence, including a Muslim saint buried inside a Hindu temple in Karaikal, to emphasise the diversity of religious practices.
Upon dismissing the writ petition, the bench also directed the petitioner to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 to the Madras High Court Advocate Clerks Welfare Association.
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