‘Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow it’: SC stays Rath Yatra at Puri’s Jagannath Temple

Odisha-based rights organisation had moved the SC seeking a stay on possible celebration of annual <em>Rath Yatra</em> at Puri’s Jagannath Temple on June 23 in backdrop of increasing COVID-19 cases

Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@DDNewslive
Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@DDNewslive

NH Web Desk

In the backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases in the state, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the annual Rath Yatra held in Puri, Odisha, BarandBench.com has reported.

An Odisha-based rights organisation had moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the possible celebration of the annual Rath Yatra at Puri's Jagannath Temple on June 23 in the backdrop of increasing COVID-19 cases.

The three judge bench of CJI, and Justices AS Bopanna and Dinesh Maheshwari while staying the annual rath yatra notes that "a procession of this magnitude cannot be permitted at the time of a pandemic."

“The annual rath yatra this year is scheduled for June 23. The festivities usually go on for 20 days. Having regards to the danger and public safety of citizens, we direct State of Odisha to not conduct any rath yatra this year. There shall be no activity associated with the rath yatra during this period. Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow it,” the court dictated.

Odisha Vikas Parishad had informed the top court that all the rituals leading up to the Rath Yatra such as Akshay Trutiya' and ‘Snana Purnima' have been allowed to be performed by the Odisha state government. Thus, the petitioner apprehended that there was a possibility that the Rath Yatra, which draws in lakhs of people, will also be allowed to take place.

Stating that the religious festival had attracted a crowd of 10 lakh in 2019, the plea urged that if such an arrangement is repeated this year, then the results would be "catastrophic."

“A religious congregation of such nature which has been specifically prohibited by the State Government vide its guidelines dated 01.06.2020 & 07.06.2020 and the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India vide its guideline dated 30.05.2020, if allowed, will lead to catastrophic results and it will be very difficult on the part of the authorities to control the spread of virus thereafter,” it said.

Giving the example of the Tablighi Jamaat, the plea states that religious congregations can cause a spurt in COVID-19 cases.

"Thus, in order to avoid any similar instances of outbreak of COVID-19 cases, a religious gathering in the nature of Rath Yatra festival ought to be avoided," the plea said.

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