Supreme Court to hear petitions seeking modification of its Rath Yatra stay order on June 22

The Supreme Court on Monday (June 22, 2020) will hear on the petitions seeking modification of its earlier June 18 order staying the `Rath Yatra` in Puri and all other places in Odisha in view of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

The Supreme Court`s single-judge bench comprising Justice S Ravindra Bhat will hear the matter at 11 am tomorrow via in-chamber hearing. As many as four petitions have been filed with the top court.

BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra on Sunday said that he has moved the apex court seeking a modification of its earlier order staying the annual Jagannath Yatra at Puri in Odisha. He assured the court that the Rath Yatra will be held without a congregation of devotees and services of 800 sevayats will be used, all of whom have tested negative for the infection. 

In a tweet, the Patra wrote: “Today I filed an Application for clarification/modification of earlier order of SC and sought permission for the Holy Rath Yatra of Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu in Puri scheduled for 23rd June. Hope all our prayers are answered by the Lord of the Universe ”

Earlier on June 18, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde had remarked that such gatherings cannot be allowed to take place at the time of a pandemic.

“Lord Jagannath will forgive us if we stay the Rath Yatra this year… In the interest of public health and safety of citizens, Rath Yatra cannot be allowed this year,” the apex court had observed.

The court also said that the Rath Yatra will not be held anywhere in Odisha in 2020 to avoid large gathering that could spread COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 15, a petition was moved by an NGO seeking direction to stay on the Rath Yatra. The petitioner, NGO Odisha Vikas Parishad, had stated that if the Rath Yatra is allowed, then COVID-19 infection will increase manifold. 

It sought an immediate order directing the respondents, including the Odisha government, not to grant any permission for holding the Rath Yatra till the disposal of the accompanying writ petition.

Meawhile, the Odisha government has decided to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling to not hold the Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri this year. The decision was taken on Thursday at a state cabinet meeting in Bhubaneswar chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. 

The chariot festival is scheduled to be held on June 23.

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