The Supreme Court on Monday has allowed the Annual Jagannath Rath Yatra to be held on June 23, 2020 at Puri. Jagannath Temple Management Trust and Odisha Government have been directed to conduct the Rath Yatra in a very restricted manner without the permission of the congregation of devotees.
The Supreme Court on June 18 had stayed the annual Lord Shri Jagannath Rath Yatra in the state. The bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice AS Bopanna while staying the RathYatra remarked ““even Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow it.”
The decision was given on a petition filed by Odisha Vikas Parishad contended that the Yatra attracts more than 10 lakhs people every year, and if the Festival is allowed to take place on the scheduled date, it may aggravate the spread of the Coronavirus, thus jeopardizing lives of thousands of people.
Today, the Central Government mentioned before the bench led by Justice Arun Mishra Seeking modification of the Court’s order praying that the Yatra be held without public participation.
The matter was listed for hearing before the bench led by Chief Justice at 2.30 pm today.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the Chief Justice that the Rath Yatra can be conducted without compromising on the health of the people and with cooperation of the temple trust.
While different applicants appeared with their prayer, Chief Justice clarified that the bench was considering applications only for Yatra at Puri and not the rest of Odisha.
Senior Counsel Harish Salve appearing for the State Government submitted that in Puri, curfew will be imposed to ensure that the yatra will only be by the servitors and the chariot will only be held by the ones who test negative. No participation of public will be allowed, assured Salve.
Senior Counsel Ranjit Kumar appearing for Odisha VikasParishad submitted that only those persons responsible for the Yatra be only allowed inside the temple premises.
Chief Justice however said that the bench was not going to do any micro management of Rath Yatra. It will be left to the best wisdom of the responsible state government.
Salve assured the bench that the state will take care of management issues.
Adv PS Narasimha submitted that “aspect related to the management of the temple is enshrined in the rules. Section 5, vests the power of yatra on a committee headed by the Gajapathi. State govt has to coordinate with the Jagannath Temple Management Committee.”
SG Tushar Mehta submitted that the Centre was willing to assist in coordination.
Thereafter, Chief Justice SA Bobde asked SG to coordinate with Salve appearing for the State Government.
Salve said that the State will coordinate with the temple committee and the Union too and asked the bench to take his statement on record if required.
-India Legal Bureau
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