Holding Rath Yatra in Odisha from June 23 will be "catastrophic" in light of rising COVID-19 cases: Plea in Supreme Court

Holding Rath Yatra in Odisha from June 23 will be "catastrophic" in light of rising COVID-19 cases: Plea in Supreme Court

Debayan Roy

In the backdrop of increasing COVID-19 cases in the state, an Odisha-based rights organisation has moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the possible celebration of the annual Rath Yatra at Puri's Jagannath Temple on June 23.

Odisha Vikas Parishad, through Advocate Ranjeeta Rohatgi, has informed the Court that all the rituals leading up to the Rath Yatra such as ‘Akshay Trutiya' and ‘Snana Purnima' have been allowed to be performed by the Odisha state government.

Thus, the petitioner apprehends that there is a possibility that the Rath Yatra, which draws in lakhs of people, will also be allowed to take place.

Stating that the religious festival had attracted a crowd of 10 lakh in 2019, the plea urges that if such an arrangement is repeated this year, then the results would be "catastrophic."

"A religious congregation of such nature which has been specifically prohibited by the State Government vide its guidelines dated 01.06.2020 & 07.06.2020 and the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India vide its guideline dated 30.05.2020, if allowed, will lead to catastrophic results and it will be very difficult on the part of the authorities to control the spread of virus thereafter."

Plea filed in Supreme Court

The plea states that though the spread of COVID-19 was contained initially, due to the influx of people coming from outside the state, there has been a steep increase in the number of positive cases.

Citing the "alarming situation currently in the State of Odisha", the petitioner organisation has stated that as per the projections by the Ministry of Health, the number of COVID -19 positive cases will reach around 10,718 by July 9 in Odisha.

Giving the example of the Tablighi Jamaat, the plea states that religious congregations can cause a spurt in COVID-19 cases.

"Thus, in order to avoid any similar instances of outbreak of COVID-19 cases, a religious gathering in the nature of Rath Yatra festival ought to be avoided."

[Read the Petition]

Odisha Rath Yatra Stay Plea.pdf
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