Kanwar Yatra
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Litigation News

Delhi HC asks Centre to consider as representation a petition to prohibit persons aged 60 years+ from undertaking Kanwar Yatra this year

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court today asked Central Government to consider as representation a petition seeking directions to prohibit persons above 60 years of age, particularly those with co-morbidities, from undertaking this year’s Kanwar Yatra.

A Division Bench of Chief Justie DN Patel and Prateek Jalan passed the order in a petition preferred by Dr Subhash Vijayran (Petitioner).

The Petitioner approached the Court on account of his 66-year old father who has respiratory co-morbidities, intending to undertake this year's Kanwar Yatra from July 6 to July 19 amid the pandemic.

"With public resources, infrastructure and manpower stretched to limits; do we have the luxury to afford the idiosyncrasies of my 66.5 year old father – and the like-minded oldies – who don’t mind dying en-route the Kanwar Yatra on their cherished belief that on death, they would receive salvation and go straight to Shivlok – the abode of their venerated Lord Shiva?", the Petitioner asked.

The Petitioner informed the Court that last year, as many as 33 million pilgrims visited Haridwar to begin their Kanwar Yatra.

It was thus contended that given the sheer number of pilgrims, a "very high-risk situation" would emerge this year due to COVID-19 pandemic, which would be dangerous not only for the aged and co-morbid Kanwaryias but also for their family members and the whole community.

The Petitioner claimed that social distancing would be impracticable and impossible and the infection will spread rapidly.

While relying on Government Reports to state that COVID-19 pandemic has been most lethal for 60+ age-group, the Petitioner has thus sought directions prohibiting persons above 60 years of age from undertaking this year’s Kanwar Yatra.

In response to the Petition, the Central Government submitted that as of now, large congregations and religious functions are prohibited and the petition was thus not maintainable.

The Court then proceeded to ask the Central Government to consider the Petitioner's plea as a representation.

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