The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that no Rath Yatra should held in the Lord Jagannath Temple in Odisha this year, on account of the pandemic situation.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde passed the order on a plea filed by Odisha Vikas Parishad seeking to stay the annual Lord Shri Jagannath's Rath Yatra in the state, which is scheduled to take place on 23 June.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioner submitted that congregation of nearly 10 lakh people in Bhubaneshwar cannot be allowed for the yatra amid the threat of COVID-19 spread.
Agreeing with this, CJI Bobde observed "We are not allowing this. Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow this to continue. Activities related to the Rath Yatra are injuncted"
"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 Court ordered.
The Court also ordered that no secular or religious activity associated to the rath yatra will take place this year in Odisha.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who represented the State of Odisha, also suggested that it would be better to stop the festivities.
Though some of the intervenors pleaded that rituals related to the Yatra should be permitted, the bench did not accept it.
The petitioner had submitted if Rath Yatra is allowed, it could lead to a 'catastrophic' spread of Covid19 as it attracts lakhs of devotees.
"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," the Petitioner organization has submitted.
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