SC makes U-turn on stay, leaves to Odisha Govt, temple committee to hold Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

Centre moves SC, seeks nod for Puri Rath Yatra without public participation

REVERSING its earlier Order staying the annual Rath Yatra fest which draws millions of People in Puri in view of Covid-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court on Monday, June 22 left it to the state government and the temple committee to hold the event on June  23. On June 18, the Court had stayed the conduct of this year’s Rath Yatra held in the backdrop of increasing COVID-19 cases in the state. The Supreme Court said it would allow Puri’s Rath Yatra saying it cannot “micro-manage” the rituals and left it to the wisdom of state, the Centre and the temple management to deal with that issue. The apex court had on June 18 said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year’s Puri Rath Yatra cannot be allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic adding “Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow” it. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde was informed by the Odisha government that it will coordinate with temple management and the Centre to make things smooth during Rath Yatra. The bench also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and A S Bopanna was informed by the Centre that Rath Yatra can be conducted without compromising on citizen’s health and with the co-operation of state and temple trust. Earlier. The apex court said it is considering the issue of conducting Rath Yatra in Puri only and not at other places in Odisha. The Chief Justice Bobde presided over the hearing through video conferencing from his Nagpur residence. The Centre told the Supreme Court that Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in Puri can be allowed to be held this year without public participation in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The “tradition of centuries may not be stopped”. The Odisha government also supported the Centre’s stand in the apex court. It is a matter of faith for crores. If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per traditions,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.

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