New Delhi, March 24: The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that 50 people chosen by the Waqf board can be allowed to offer prayers at the mosque in the Nizamuddin Markaz during the coming festival season once the names of those individuals are provided to the SHO of the area.

The submission was made before Justice Mukta Gupta by the central government during the hearing of a plea seeking opening of the Nizamuddin Markaz where the Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held amid the COVID-19 pandemic and has been locked since March 31 last year.

Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the Delhi Waqf Board has to forward an application containing the 50 names to the Station House Officer (SHO) of the area and thereafter, those persons alone would be allowed to enter the mosque to offer prayers. COVID-19 Surge in India: Centre Asks States, UTs To Impose Local Restrictions During Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Easter and Other Upcoming Festivals to Curb Spread.

The submission on behalf of the Centre was made after the Board, represented by senior advocate Ramesh Gupta and advocate Wajeeh Shafiq, urged the court to permit some individuals to pray at the mosque during the coming 'shab-e-barat' holiday at the end of the week.

They said only the mosque would be used and not the madrasa located there.

Gupta also urged the court to decide the matter before the holy month of Ramzan commences from April 13 as more people would want to offer prayers at the mosque during that time.

The court, thereafter, listed the matter for hearing on April 12. The Board, in its plea, has contended that even after unlock-1 guidelines permitted religious places outside containment zones to be opened, the markaz -- comprising the Masjid Bangley Wali, Madarsa Kashif-ul-uloom and attached hostel -- continues to be locked up.

It has further contended that even if the premises was part of any criminal investigation or trial, keeping it "under lock as an out of bound area" was a "primitive method" of enquiry process.

An FIR has been registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, Foreigners Act and various provisions of the penal code in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat event held at the markaz and the subsequent stay of foreigners there during the COVID-19 lockdown.