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"Jagannath Temple Constitutes A Class Apart": Orissa HC Dismisses Pleas For Permission To Hold Rath Yatras In Other Places On Parity With Lord Jagannath Temple

Nupur Thapliyal
24 Jun 2021 9:13 AM GMT
Jagannath Temple Constitutes A Class Apart: Orissa HC Dismisses Pleas For Permission To Hold Rath Yatras In Other Places On Parity With Lord Jagannath Temple
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The Orissa High Court on Thursday dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by devotees and the sevayats of the deities praying for permission to hold Rath Yatras/Car Festival in other places in the State on parity with the permission granted in relation to Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri.A division bench comprising of Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice S.K. Panigrahi observed thus:"These...

The Orissa High Court on Thursday dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by devotees and the sevayats of the deities praying for permission to hold Rath Yatras/Car Festival in other places in the State on parity with the permission granted in relation to Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri.

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice S.K. Panigrahi observed thus:

"These are extraordinary times in which not just Odisha but the entire country is barely recovering from the second wave of the deadly Covid pandemic. The measures and precautions taken by the State of Odisha have to be viewed in the said context. Consequently, this Court is not inclined to entertain any of the prayers in any of the above writ petitions, praying for permission to hold their respective Rath yatras/festivals on parity with the temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri."

The Court was dealing with 6 petitions challenging the order issued by the State Government dated 10th June, 2021 wherein it was directed that the Ratha Yatra/Car festival shall be conducted this year in Lord Jagannath temple at Puri and nowhere else in the State in the same manner as was done last year. 

Specifically, the order directed that no chariots shall be pulled in places/temples in the State of Odisha except Car festival/Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath Bije Puri and that only rituals may be performed inside the temple premises apart from Lord Jagannath temple.

In view of this, the Court observed that temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri "constitutes a class apart" and has been implicitly recognized by the Supreme Court in Odisha Bikash Parishad v. Union of India whereby specific directions were issued in relation to the holding of the Ratha Yatra in Puri last year during the first covid wave.

"In all these petitions on behalf of the devotees and the sevayats of the deities in different locations of the State of Odisha the grievance raised is that they too should have been permitted to conduct the respective Car festivals on the ground that the rate of COVID-19 surge in those locations is far less than it is at Puri." The Court said.

Observing that the measures and precautions taken by the State of Odisha have to be viewed in the said context, the Court dismissed the pleas.

Title: Ratha Yatra Committee, Bhatli and Ors. v. Government of Odisha and Others 

Click Here To Read Order

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