Observation were made by the bench comprising of the Chief Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad that it would be a very difficult situation for the administration of the State of Jharkhand, if large number of congregations would be allowed ina way affecting large the population.
The bench made some directions for the arrangement for online Darshan of the Lord Shiva during Shravani Mela to be started from the opening day and to continue till the last day of the Mela and that the Pooja of Jyotirlinga would continue during the month of Shravan and Bhado but the same will be done by the Temple Trust without allowing any public participation.
PIL had been filed by Dr.Nishikant Dubey, a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) seeking direction to open Baba BaidhyanathJyotirlinga Temple at Deoghar and Baba Basukinath Temple at Basukinath for Public Darshan and to further allow the ‘Shravani Mela’ devotees to offer prayers during Hindi month of ‘Shravan and Bhado’ with such precautions in view the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
No Similar SituationtoPuriRathYatra
The court observed that there is a wide difference in PuriRathYatra andShravaniMela when the petitioner relied on the Supreme Court’s PuriJagannath order:
“In the Shravani Mela the devotees use to lift sacred Ganges water from Sultanganj in the State of Bihar and travel about 50-60 k.m. They used to come to Baba Baidyanath Temple for pouring the sacred water upon Jyotirlinga and as such it is quite impossible to think about avoiding the congregation of the people.”
Allowing ShravaniMela may lead to a difficult situation
Unlike PuriRathYatra, physical presence of the devotees is of paramount importance for Shravani Mela. About more than a lakh people every day had visited the Temple in the past, during Shravani Mela. The court noted:
“In that view of the matter, this Court is of the view that no such direction for Shravani Mela will be appropriate to be passed taking into consideration the spread of threat of COVID-19 virus which according to us, if allowed, may cause great danger of wide spread of infection of COVID-19 virus and as has been expressed by the State of Jharkhand, through its limited resources, the State authorities are making efforts to put a check upon the spread of virus. If such a large number of congregations would be allowed, the same would be a very difficult situation not only for the administration of the State of Jharkhand but affecting the people at large. “
No Contrary Decision, Central Govt. and State Govt. Together
In the case, legal contention were raisedthat the Government of Jharkhand has took a decision contrary to the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs in a way to keep the religious places closed. Submissions were made by the petitionerthat Union of India has permitted to open the religious places outside the containment zone, but at the same time, State of Jharkhand took a decision for closure of the religious places outside the containment zone. The Court rejected the argument and noted that based on the assessment of the situation prohibition could be made for certain activities outside the containment zones and that the Central Government has also left it open upon the State/Union Territories to impose such restrictions as deemed necessary. Section 6 of the National Disaster Management Actconfers power upon the National Authority while Section 22 confers power upon the State Executive Committee and both have got independent entity, the Court observed.
Case name: Dr.Nishikant Dubey vs. Union of India
Case no.: W.P. (PIL) No.1753 of 2020
Coram: Chief Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan and JusticeSujit Narayan Prasad