The Supreme Court today stayed the annual Rath Yatra held in Puri, Odisha. The three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Dinesh Maheshwari noted,
“A procession of this magnitude cannot be permitted at the time of a pandemic.”
The Supreme court further stated,
“The annual Rath Yatra this year is scheduled for June 23. The festivities usually go on for 20 days. Having regard to the danger and public safety of citizens, we direct State of Odisha to not conduct any Rath Yatra this year. There shall be no activity associated with the rath yatra during this period. Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow it.”
Advocate Ranjeeta Rohatgi, for Odisha Vikas Parishad had stated in its plea that all the rituals leading up to the Rath Yatra such as ‘Akshay Trutiya’ and ‘Snana Purnima’ have been allowed to be performed by the Odisha state government.
The petitioner also apprehended that there was a possibility that the Rath Yatra, which draws in lakhs of people, will also be allowed to take place.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, urged the Court that some other ritual instead of that can be permitted.
The Court noted,
“We have experience that anytime something is allowed, people gather” and Stating that the religious festival had attracted a crowd of 10 lakh in 2019, the plea urges that if such an arrangement is repeated this year, then the results would be “catastrophic.”
The court while considering the Tablighi jamaat incident stated, “Thus, in order to avoid any similar instances of outbreak of COVID-19 cases, a religious gathering in the nature of Rath .