Gujarat HC, Rath Yatra
Gujarat HC, Rath Yatra
Litigation News

No Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad this year: Gujarat HC clarifies, expresses astonishment on State's inaction on application for its conduct

"We are astonished on this inaction", the Court said, while directing the State authorities to explain why its decision in the matter was not taken within time rather than keeping it pending till the last date.

Meera Emmanuel

The Gujarat High Court on Saturday was surprised to find that the municipal and police authorities of the State were dragging its legs on deciding the application made regarding the conduct of the Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad this year, originally scheduled for the coming Tuesday, June 23.

The Court has clarified that, in line with the Supreme Court's June 18 directive regarding the same, neither the Rath Yatra nor any religious or other activities concerning the same would be conducted this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Hiteskumar Vittalbhai Chavda v. Hagannathji Mandit Trust).

However, the Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala has also sought an explanation of why the concerned authorities had not made a decision regarding the conduct of the Rath Yatra, despite an application for the same having been made by the Shri Jagannath Mandir Trust on May 18.

CJ Vikram nath and Justice JB Pardiwala
CJ Vikram nath and Justice JB Pardiwala

Pleas were moved subsequently before the Court, raising safety concerns if the yatra was conducted amid the pandemic. It was noted that the Yatra would pass through three containment zones and one buffer containment zone.

Further, it was argued that once the procession starts, it would be very difficult to stop the public from joining the yatra and it would prove disastrous during the pandemic.

After hearing the urgent plea to restrain its possible conduct, the High Court on Saturday evening pointed out that the Supreme Court has already directed that there shall be no Rath Yatra this year anyway in country this year.

In view of the same, the High Court also ordered against the conduct of the yatra in Ahmedabad, saying,

"... we direct that there shall be no Rath Yatra carried out for this year at Ahmedabad and at any other district in the State of Gujarat. We have extended the relief claimed so that no emergent situation arise in the State of Gujarat. We further direct that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the Rath Yatra during this period."
Gujarat High Court

Moreover, the Court has now asked the State authorities to explain why a decision on the conduct of the yatra was kept pending this late. As noted in the order,

"We are astonished on this inaction of the Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as also the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad, as to why no decision was taken and communicated to the organizer well within time, rather than keeping the matter pending till the last date when the Rath Yatra is to be carried out on 23.06.2020 i.e. just two days away. Maintenance of law and order in the State is in the domain of the Department of Home."

In this backdrop, the Court has directed authorities of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the Police Commissioner and the Chief Secretary of the State's Home Department to file affidavits explaining "the reasons and circumstances why the application was not disposed of well within time and keeping the matter looming at large till the end and then compelling the parties to rush to the Court for urgent circulation."

Senior Advocate Anshin Desai assisted by Advocate Nandish Thakkar, Advocate Aum Kotwal and Advocate Sanat Pandya, appeared for the petitioners in the matter.

Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, Government Pleader Manisha Lavkumar Shah, Assistant Government Pleader, DM Devnani and Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin appeared for the State authorities.

Read the Order:

Hiteskumar Vittalbhai Chavda v. Hagannathji Mandit Trust.pdf
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