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No Rath Yatra this year in Odisha, SC stalls festival in temple areas

New Delhi: In a historic decision, the Supreme Court of India has stalled the centuries-old annual Rath Yatra this year in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
An SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde while hearing a plea seeking cancellation of the festival this year ruled, “We consider it appropriate that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens to restrain the respondents from holding the Rath Yatra this year. We direct that no Rath Yatra will be held in temple areas of Odisha.”
Hearing a plea filed by Odisha Vikash Parishad, CJI noted, “Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow this to continue. Activities related to the Rath Yatra is injuncted.”
CJI further orders that no secular or religious activity associated with the Rath Yatra will take place this year. The matter has been listed for hearing after 4 weeks.
Solicitor General Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the petitioner during the hearing submitted that a congregation of lakhs of people cannot be allowed for the yatra amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “It will be impossible to contain such a large gathering. Even the Olympics have been postponed this year,” said the SG.
As per the legal news website, Live Law, intervenors repeatedly asked the CJI for the rituals to be allowed to continue as they are religious in nature.
While SG Tushar Mehta says the sensitivity of the matter requires that some rituals are allowed, the CJI refused to entertain the submission saying “The word ‘juggernaut’ comes from Jagannath; a juggernaut cannot be stopped. So, Lord Jagannath cannot be stopped by this.”

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