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Gandhinagar, June 20, 2020
Citing the Supreme Court's stay on Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra in Puri in Odisha amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Gujarat High Court on Saturday stayed the Rath Yatra procession in Ahmedabad city scheduled for June 23.
The High Court also directed the state Home Department, Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police and the Municipal Corporation to explain why there was a long delay in granting or denying permission for the Rath Yatra and consequent uncertainty over this year's religious procession.
All the stakeholders have been asked to file their response by the next date of hearing -- July 6. They were also asked to bring along all applications for permission for the Rath Yatra.
A bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala said that looking at the larger public interest and safety, the Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad cannot be allowed this year.
The High Court said that the way apex court had stayed the Odisha Rath Yatra, it was advisable not to hold any such religious procession anywhere in the state as well.
The division bench was hearing online an urgent matter of two PILs filed by Ahmedabad citizens, who prayed that if the Rath Yatra was allowed the corona outbreak would cause dangerous spread of corona infections.
The PILs cited corona figures of hotspot Ahmedabad, with over 18,000 positive cases and over 1,300 deaths.
The PILs mentioned that the Rath Yatra route had many micro containment zones, where it was impossible to maintain social distancing in view of narrow lanes.
Ahmedabad's Jagannath temple authorities were making preparations to hold the 143rd religious procession on June 23 but the state had not taken a clear stand on whether to grant or deny permission.
The temple trustees had even invited Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani for 'Pahind', a ritualistic flagging off of the procession.
It will be the first time in 143 years of the Rath Yatra history that the procession won't be allowed to be held.