Know The Conditions Laid Down By Supreme Court For Holding Rath Yatra In Puri

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Odisha government to conduct Rath Yatra, scheduled to start from June 23, in Puri in a restricted manner in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

“We find, in one of the present applications, an affidavit filed on behalf of the State of Odisha stating that it might 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. Indeed, if it is possible to ensure that there is no public attendance, we see no reason why the Rath Yatra cannot be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple,” the SC said in its verdict.

The apex court, however, said it cannot “micro-manage” the rituals and left it to the wisdom of state, the Centre and temple management to deal with that issue.

The three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde also laid down some conditions for allowing Rath Yatra in Puri.

1) All entry points to Puri, airports, railway stations, bus stands shall be closed during the period of Rath Yatra festival.

(2) The state government shall impose a curfew in Puri town on all days and during all the time when chariots are taken in procession. The government may also impose curfew in the town on such other days and during such time as deemed necessary. During the period of curfew, no one would be allowed to come out of their houses or their places of residence, such as hotels and lodging houses. To start with, the curfew shall begin tonight at 8 pm.

(3) Each chariot shall be pulled by not more than 500 persons. Each of those 500 persons shall be tested for the Coronavirus. They shall be permitted to pull the chariot only if they have been found negative. The number 500 shall include officials and police personnel.

(4) There shall be an interval of one hour between two chariots.

(5) Each of those engaged in pulling the chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after Rath Yatra.

(6) We are informed that certain rituals are associated with the Rath Yatra. We direct that only such persons shall be associated with the rituals who have been found to have tested negative and shall maintain social distancing.

(7) The primary responsibility for conducting the Rath Yatra in accordance with the conditions and other norms shall be that of the committee in-charge of Puri Jagannath Temple Administration. Each member of the committee shall be responsible for due compliance with the conditions imposed by this Court and the general directions which govern ensuring of public health issued by the Union Government. In addition, the officers designated by the state government for the conduct of Rath Yatra shall be responsible likewise.

(8) The rituals and Rath Yatra shall be freely covered by the visual media. The state government shall allow TV cameras to be installed at such places as may be found necessary by the TV crew.

(9) The bare minimum number of people shall be allowed by the committee to participate in the rituals and in Rath Yatra. We take note of the fact that the State of Odisha has a good record of having controlled the pandemic with a very little loss of life. We see no reason why the same attitude of care and caution should not be applied to Rath Yatra.

(10) The state government may take such help as may be found necessary from the Union Government. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General, has assured the Court that the Union Government shall offer all assistance and help to the state government in this endeavour.

(11) The state government shall maintain a record containing details of all those who have been allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra or the rituals connected therewith along with details of their medical conditions after testing.


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