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HomePoliticsIndiaJagannath Rath Yatra sans crowd gets Supreme Court nod

Jagannath Rath Yatra sans crowd gets Supreme Court nod

The Jagannath Rath Yatra had been disallowed following confusing arguments by the petitioner who sounded more like an opponent of the idea

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The Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri has got the green signal from the Supreme Court. In view of the coronavirus epidemic, the apex court has allowed the rath yatra with conditions. The court said that even during the plague epidemic, the Rath Yatra had taken place, abiding by certain restrictions for the devotees.

The court had earlier disallowed the Jagannath Rath Yatra, following confusing arguments by the petitioner who sounded like opposing the yatra rather than supporting it.

Several petitions had been filed in the Supreme Court against the ban on the Puri Rath Yatra due to coronavirus infection. A Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde-led three-judge bench, comprising also Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, heard these petitions in the Supreme Court today.

Beginning the debate, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, who had arrived at the court with directions from the government to advocate permission for the Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra yatra, argued that the auspicious journey should be allowed. The Jagannath Temple authority would compromise on no issue and will also take care of the safety of the people, Mehta said. The CJI had asked why the UOI should conduct the rath yatra.

Mehta said that the Jagannath Rath Yatra could be allowed after consulting Shankaracharya Gajapati of Puri and the Jagannath Temple Committee. The union government wanted, he said, that the ritual be performed in the attendance of only the few absolutely necessary to conduct the holy journey.

The CJI asked what Shankaracharya’s locus standi in the particular case was. The trust and temple committee are already organised, he remarked, so why was the government inducting Shankaracharya? Mehta said it was a healthy process of consultation practised in Hinduism that the government respects. He is a religious master, the S-G noted.

Senior advocate Harish Salve said curfew should be imposed in the area. Only the sevayat, with the help of policemen, if needed, must pull the chariot, he demanded, adding they must have been cleared in COVID tests.

Petitioner Ranjit Kumar, who was opposed to the permission, said that 2,500 pandas were associated with the temple system. This could lead to a disorder.

The CJI said the court was aware of the situation and its implications. CJI Bobde observed that micro-management was the responsibility of the Government of Odisha. Following the provisions of the of the union government and concern for public health, the Jagannath rath yatra must happen this year.

The S-G assured the court that the arrangements would be in accordance with the for public health and safety.

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