SC Rejects Plea To Allow Rath Yatra Outside of Puri Jagannath

To stop the further spread of COVID-19, the Odisha government had released an order confining this year’s Rath Yatra to only the state’s iconic Puri Jagannath Temple. However, a plea was submitted seeking for the Holi Yatra to be allowed in other areas.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced its decision as it refused to intervene against this order. Reviewing the plea, the bench led by Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana, remarked that the trajectory of the virus was unpredictable.

“You want to pray to God. You can do it from home. I also wanted to go to Puri, but could not in the last one and half years. This is not the time”, said the CJI while addressing the lawyers representing Odisha Vikas Parishad, an NGO.

The plea was submitted seeking Rath Yatras to be allowed in Baripada, Sasang, and other cities in the state.

So far, the state has only allowed rituals in the Puri Jagannath temple and conducting the Rath Yatra within the city. Even in the city, strict measures will be in place. A curfew has been planned from the day before the festival till the next afternoon. All the hotels, lodges have been asked not to take bookings from two days prior.

Servitors and police personnel will be allowed to pull the chariots. The servitors will be provided with sanitisers, masks, napkins, medicines, glucose, and ORS during the pulling of the chariots.

In 2020, the court had lifted its June 18 ban on the conduct of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra after ensuring a complete lack of public attendance for the festival to avoid the spread of infection amid a pandemic. The court had ordered a strict curfew in the city of Puri, with all entry points to the city closed during the festival.

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