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[ BREAKING]'Hope God Will Allow Rath Yatra Next Year': Supreme Court Refuses To Allow Rath Yatras In Odisha In Places Other Puri Jagannath Temple

Akshita Saxena
6 July 2021 6:22 AM GMT
[ BREAKING]Hope God Will Allow Rath Yatra Next Year: Supreme Court Refuses To Allow Rath Yatras In Odisha In Places Other Puri Jagannath Temple
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a batch of petitions seeking permission to hold Rath Yatras in other temples in the State of Odisha at par with with Rath Yatra at the iconic Puri Jagannath Temple. It held that given the country is only recovering from second wave of Covid-19, the Odisha Government has taken a considered decision."I also feel bad but we can't do anything about it....

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a batch of petitions seeking permission to hold Rath Yatras in other temples in the State of Odisha at par with with Rath Yatra at the iconic Puri Jagannath Temple. It held that given the country is only recovering from second wave of Covid-19, the Odisha Government has taken a considered decision.

"I also feel bad but we can't do anything about it. Hope god will allow next Rath Yatra," CJI ramana said while dismissing the petitions citing the Covid-19 situation.

The CJI added that he also wished to go to Puri for the Rath Yatra however, given the public health situation in the country, he has decided to worship at home.

"I also want to go to Puri since last 1.5 years but I don't. I worship at home," he remarked.

The rath yatras were restricted by the administration as part of COVID pandemic control measures. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy was hearing a writ petition filed by Odisha Vikas Parishad and others, against High Court order dated June 23, declining to interfere with the State's decision.

The Petitioners claimed that Covid-19 cases had declined in their districts and in fact, the situation is better than Puri.

Advocate AK Srivastava appeared for Bariprada Lord Jagannath Temple, stating "We are considered second Puri and in 445 years, first time we are being denied Rath Yatra. We started our preparations in compliance with Covid-19 protocol. All our volunteers have been tested negative."

Similarly, Advocate Manjunath Meled sought permission to hold rath yatra at Nilgiri and Sasang temples, in accordance with the restrictions imposed upon Puri temple.

SG Tushar Mehta admitted that there are other places where Yatra is going on since centuries and thus, the Court may consider granting permission for 'token Yatra' where only few persons are allowed to perform rituals.

"This way both religious sentiments and health of people will be protected," the SG submitted.

However, AG Ashok Parija opposed the petitions, saying that it is not possible for the State to implement restrictions throughout the State. "Conditions imposed for the Rath Yatra at Puri cannot be implemented across the State. Chariot is pulled for 500 people who have RT PCR test. Entry points have to be closed. How will the State ensure all these conditions?"

Following this, the CJI observed that the Government has taken a considered decision and the Supreme Court does not have the expertise to interfere with the matter.

The High Court had declined permission for holding Rath Yatras at other places saying that Puri "constitutes a class apart" and has been implicitly recognized by the Supreme Court in last year's decision 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.

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