The Supreme Court today refused to pass any orders relating to the conduct of this year’s Amarnath Yatra, stating that it is a subject matter under the domain of the Executive.
A three-judge Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph refused to pass orders when the matter came up for hearing today.
While refusing to pass any orders on the plea, the Court said that the decision on this year’s Yatra is one to be taken by the local administration.
“…we are of view that recourse being taken here under Article 32 is inappropriate. The issue as to whether Yatra be held should be left with the local administration.”
The Bench went on to state,
“We are ill-equipped to judge whether a Yatra can be held in a difficult terrain. It is not our concern under Article 32. The problem is in your petition where you compare similar such orders.”
Points concerning public health were also raised by the petitioners, who said that the spread of the virus is a concern that needs to be addressed preemptively. Amit Pai pointed out that while no dates for the Yatra have been announced yet, media reports suggest that it may begin from July 21 or 22.
The petitioner organisation states that if attendance of pilgrims is allowed, it would cause a “serious public health issue in the present pandemic situation.”
The rationale behind allowing the Amarnath Yatra to be held this year is also questioned. However, the petition maintains that it is not seeking to cancel the Amarnath yatra in totality. The plea states,
“Shrine Board had initially decided on 22.04.2020 to cancel the Shri Amarnath Yatra 2020 for pilgrims/devotees, in order to not put them in the harms way and to contain the Covid 19 virus. However, within a few hours, the decision was withdrawn. There is no rationale for the withdrawal of the cancellation of the Yatra for the pilgrims.”
However, the Court was not inclined to entertain the plea. It however said,
“…in arriving at decisions, the administrative authorities are required to bear in mind the relevant statutory provisions including the administrative decisions taken in pursuance of statutory provisions assessment of situation on ground is based on local factors which lie in the domain of administrators… Undoubtedly any decision arrived at must be based on law and all relevant statutory provisions.”
Read the plea here: