Order of the Supreme Court regarding holding of Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha, 22/06/2020

  • 22/06/2020

Order of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Odisha Vikash Parishad Vs Union of India & Others dated 22/06/2020.

The SC in its order of June 18, 2020 had restrained holding of the Rath Yatra this year in view of the danger presented by the gathering of 10 to 12 lakhs of devotees for a period of 10-12 days. The apex court observed that any spread of the Coronavirus due to the Rath Yatra would be disastrous due to the large number of persons and the impossibility of tracking all the infected people after they have gone back to their respective homes.

"While we do not have the official copy of the gazette itself, we are informed that in the 18th-19th century a yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague," the SC said.

The state of Odisha in the affidavit filed, informed the court that it would be possible to conduct the Rath Yatra at Puri "“in a limited way without public attendance”. This has been proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, who is the Chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple Administration. The SC observed that if it was possible to ensure that there was no public attendance, there was no reason why the Rath Yatra could not be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple.

The SC directed that the Rath Yatra at Puri could be held if the conditions laid down by the SC are followed. The condition include closing of all entry points into the city of Puri (airports, railway stations, bus stands) during the period of Rath Yatra festival and imposition of curfew in the city of Puri on all the days and during all the time when Rath Yatra chariots are taken in procession. Also, each Rath should be pulled by not more than 500 persons. And each of those 500 persons would be tested for the Coronavirus.