Big Relief For Jagannath Devotees: SC Nod To Rath Yatra In Puri

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Monday gave the go-ahead to conduct Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and His sibling deities in Puri on the morrow after weighing the pros and cons of safeguarding the centuries-old tradition and public health risks due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.

The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, decided in favour of modifying its June 18 verdict, taken in the interest of public health and safety of citizens in view of possible spread of coronavirus, restraining the state government from holding Rath Yatra this year across Odisha.

The apex court said it would leave it to the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and the Odisha government to conduct Rath Yatra “in a very restricted manner without allowing devotee congregation” after the state government assured it would coordinate with the Centre to organise the festival.

The top court order came while adjudicating on intervenor petitions filed by several individuals and organisations seeking that the annual sojourn of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra be permitted in Puri, which is the moola peetha (original seat) of the deities.

The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, strongly argued in favour of conducting Rath Yatra in Puri. The Odisha government, which had on June 18 not supported holding of Rath Yatra as it apprehended spread of coronavirus, too, filed an affidavit supporting organising the event in Puri. Its counsel Harish Salve assured the court that the state government will act responsibly and contain the spread. “If cases rise, it will reflect badly on us. We will take care of it,” Salve told the court.

On Sunday evening, the Odisha government said it will take “favourable action” when the Supreme Court (SC) takes up hearing of petitions seeking recall/ modification of its order stopping Rath Yatra in Puri scheduled on June 23. “The state government will take favourable action as legally permissible on the request of the Gajapati Maharaj (of Puri) when the writ petition W.P.(C) No. 571 of 2020 is taken up for hearing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the Law department had said in a press release.

The petitioners sought permission for pulling of the three chariots by the sevayats and police personnel by adhering to social distancing norms.

The Law department release followed Chairman of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration and Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb and Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati expressing the need for reconsideration of the apex court’s June 18 order and holding of Rath Yatra with adequate preparations to meet COVID management norms. The tradition has remained unbroken for 284 years despite calamities and pandemics.

On Saturday, the Gajapati Maharaj, in a letter, requested Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take steps to allow Rath Yatra in without any congregation of the general public and with the state government taking appropriate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Also Read: Know What Puri Denizens Have To Say About Holding Rath Yatra

Also Read: Puri Administration, SJTA Ready For Rath Yatra

Also Read: Prayer On Lips, Lakhs Of Devotees In Puri Await Rath Yatra Verdict


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