The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday struck down all petitions seeking celebrations of Rath Yatra in other parts of Odisha this year as the State battles the second wave of the Covid pandemic.
"I also feel bad but we can't do anything about it. Hope god will allow next Rath Yatra," the 48th Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana ruled while scrapping several pleas requesting the apex court's intervention in the matter.
A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said it cannot predict Covid-19 situation in the State. Besides, the Government is competent authority to decide
on this matter.
The Odisha government has already banned the celebration of the car festival of Lord Jagannath in all other parts of the State except Puri where the Rath Yatra will be held under strict laid out Covid protocols like last year. The State authorities have however allowed the conduct of the rituals inside the temples
with adherence to pandemic guidelines.
The High Court of Orissa has also rejected pleas from petitioners seeking public observance of the festival in Nilagiri, Kendrapara & Bhatli.
Advocate General Ashok Parija appearing for Odisha government said, "Chariots are pulled by 500 people who have RT PCR test. How will the State ensure all these conditions?. Puri is 'different'. Conditions imposed for the Rath Yatra at Puri cannot be implemented across the State," Live Law quoted Parija.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta interjected in the matter and stated before the bench that there was a complete prohibition of Rath Yatra last year. Now Odisha govt has allowed Yatra only in Puri. But there are other places where the Yatra is going on for centuries.
He prayed before the bench that it may consider granting permission for 'token Yatra' where only a few persons are allowed to perform rituals. This way both religious sentiments and the health of people will be protected, he said.