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Gujarat HC Stays Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra Citing Covid Concerns [Read Order]

Akshita Saxena
22 Jun 2020 4:59 AM GMT
Gujarat HC Stays Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra Citing Covid Concerns [Read Order]
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Two days after the Supreme Court stayed the Rath Yatra in the Lord Jagannath Temple, scheduled to be held on June 23, 2020, the Gujarat High Court has also passed a similar order, putting a stay on the Yatra or any other related activities.

The order has been passed by a division bench comprised by Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala during an urgent hearing held on Saturday at 7:15 pm.

Taking note of the Covid situation which may be aggravated by the potential religious congregation at the Yatra and also in view if the Supreme Court order, the bench directed,

"there shall be no Rath Yatra carried out for this year at Ahmedabad and at any other district in the State of Gujarat. We have extended the relief claimed so that no emergent situation arise in the State of Gujarat. We further direct that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the Rath Yatra during this period."

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court had while deciding the case titled "Odisha Vikash Parishad v. Union of India & Ors.", ordered that no Rath Yatra shall be held in the Lord Jagannath Temple in Odisha this year, on account of the pandemic situation.

"We consider it appropriate that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens to restrain the Respondents from holding the Rath Yatra this year. We direct that no Rath Yatra will be held in the temple area of Odisha", the order read.

A similar relief was sought before the High Court, in a plea filed by Hiteshkumar Vittalbhai Chavda, who informed the court that the Temple Trust had applied to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and to the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad for granting appropriate permission and for making necessary arrangements so that smooth and safe passage is provided to the Rath Yatra.

It was submitted however that no decision on the same had been taken till date.

It was further pointed out that that the Yatra covers 16 to 18 Kilometers passage and it will pass through 3 Containment Zones and 1 Buffer Containment Zone.

It was therefore pleaded that the abovementioned authorities be directed to dispose of the request, expeditiously.

Expressing shock at the lax approach of the authorities the Court remarked,

"We are astonished on this inaction of the Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as also the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad, as to why no decision was taken and communicated to the organizer well within time, rather than keeping the matter pending till the last date when the Rath Yatra is to be carried out on 23.06.2020 i.e. just two days away. Maintenance of law and order in the State is in the domain of the Department of Home."

The court therefore directed the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad as also the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Home, Government of Gujarat, to file their respective affidavits explaining the reasons and circumstances why the application was not disposed of well within time.

The matter is now posted for hearing on July 6, 2020.

Case Details:

Case Title: Hiteshkumar Vittalbhai Chavda v. Shri Jagannathji Mandir Trust

Case No.: R/WP (PIL) No. 90/2020

Quorum: Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala

Appearance: Advocate Aum M Kotwal, Senior Advocate Anshin Desai assisted by Advocate Nandish Thakkar with Sanat Pandya (for Petitioner); Advocate General Kamal Trivedi (for and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation); Government Pleader Manisha Lavkumar Shah with Assistant Government Pleader DM Devnani and Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin (for State)

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