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Ganga Sagar Mela 2021-Compared With Religious Practice, Beliefs & Faith, Life Is More Important In Every Sense: Calcutta High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
7 Jan 2021 1:22 PM GMT
Ganga Sagar Mela 2021-Compared With Religious Practice, Beliefs & Faith, Life Is More Important In Every Sense: Calcutta High Court
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Directing the State Government to come out with clear suggestions as to how the Ganga Sagar Mela 2021 would be regulated, controlled or if necessary, even dropped for the current year, the Calcutta High Court today observed that "life is more important in every sense, in comparison to religious practice, beliefs and faith." The Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B....

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Directing the State Government to come out with clear suggestions as to how the Ganga Sagar Mela 2021 would be regulated, controlled or if necessary, even dropped for the current year, the Calcutta High Court today observed that "life is more important in every sense, in comparison to religious practice, beliefs and faith."

The Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee was hearing a PIL filed by one Ajay Kumar De related to the issues affecting health, safety and welfare matters in relation to Ganga Sagar Mela 2021 to be held soon.

[NOTE: Every year on Makar Sankranti, lakhs of Hindus flock the Sagar Island in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district to take the holy dip and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni temple.]

The Court, hearing the plea said,

"We are of the view that the State has to assure this Court, that the persons in control of the medical department, particularly those who are well informed in the science of medicine, including preventive medicine, have delineated modes of excluding the spreading of the infection in these pandemic times."

Importantly, the Court remarked,

"Even from the layman's point of view, when congregations take dips in flowing water or stagnant water, in the form of ponds, rivers or other water bodies, oral droplets and nasal droplets of any person who is carrying the infection in this pandemic period, can easily percolate into that water body and thereby create chances of infection through those droplets transmitted virus."

The Court also noted that 'social distancing' would remain "a mirage" when such congregations happen.

"This would be counterproductive to the preventive exercise that is due to the people at large. Even in terms of Disaster Management Act, the primary essential focus ought to be fundamentally on preventive disaster management", said the Court.

Regarding organizing the Ganga Sagar Mela in 2021, the Court remarked,

"A grimmer situation should necessarily prompt the State to make more rigorous provisions having in mind the duties of the State. It is in consonance with the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The pandemic situation which has visited us now is not something on which there could be any roll back through human intervention, without protective measures being in place."

Lastly, the Court directed the State Government to have a report in the form of an affidavit placed on record through a Medical Officer at the highest level in the State Government service, clearly delineating the modalities of the preventive management of the situation if Ganga Sagar Mela is permitted to be held this year.

The Court further said

  • The measures indicated should take care of congestion on the banks, in the water bodies, in the roads and other available places including the places where public are provided eateries, toilets and other facilities.
  • The imposition of restrictions and enforcement of social distancing norms as well as use of mask and due sanitization in terms of COVID management protocols ought to be clearly spelt out on behalf of the State Government in such report in the form of affidavit.

As per the Court's order, the decision of the State Government in that regard has to be placed before the Court on Friday (08th January).

Case title - Ajay Kumar De Vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors. [WPA (P) 23 of 2020]

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]

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