Supreme Court on Thursday put a stay on the Jaganath Puri Yatra and all the religious activities connected to it which is scheduled on June 23. Centre has made a request that instead of putting a blanket ban, it should allow some leeway permitting few rituals without any gathering.
“In the interest of public health and the safety of citizens, we restrain the state from holding the Rath Yatra and associated activities. We direct that there shall be no Rath Yatra and associated activities this year,” stated the bench headed by CJI SA Bobde.
A petition has been filed by an NGO Odisha Vikas Parishad citing public health risk if the yatra will be allowed. Former Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi representing this non-profit NGO contended that allowing this Yatra would violate the state government’s order.
While hearing the petition, the CJI SA Bobde stated, “Such gatherings can’t take place at the time of the pandemic. Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow this year’s Rath Yatra.” He further added that this is a serious matter and even if there are only 10,000 people, it is also a serious thing.
Marking the largest religious congregation in Odisha, a chariot of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra are pulled from the Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple. The festival used to invite lakhs of devotees from all around the world.
Twelve temples in Balasore district, six in Mayurbhanj, five in Sambalpur, two each in Kandhamal, Gajapati, and Bolangir had already declared that they are not going to celebrate the festival and hold the Yatra in temple premises.