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New Delhi, June 22, 2020
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Puri Rath Yatra in Odisha with conditions and asked the state government and the Centre to work in tandem.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde noted that the state government has the freedom to stop the Rath Yatra, if it observes a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Puri. The Rath Yatra is scheduled on June 23.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice noted that the court is willing to modify its June 18 order which put a stay on the Rath Yatra in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court said that the Jagannath Temple management committee and state government can conduct the Rath Yatra in accordance with the guidelines.
The court directed the Rath Yatra be held in a very restricted manner without allowing devotee congregation. The Odisha government agreed to coordinate with the Centre.
The Chief Justice reiterated that the state government is free to stop the festival, if there are signs which endanger public health and safety.
"We are only allowing this (Rath Yatra) to be done on certain conditions," said the court.
Recalling its June 18 order, the apex court observed that any spread of COVID-19 due to this will be disastrous since large numbers are involved.
"It won't be possible to track everyone after they go back home," added the court.