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Reconsider Decision to Hold Kanwar Yatra Physically, SC Tells UP Govt

"State of Uttar Pradesh cannot go ahead with it. 100 percent," the Supreme Court said on Friday.

Updated
India
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The Supreme Court on Friday, 16 July, told the Uttar Pradesh government that it should reconsider its decision to hold the Kanwar Yatra physically. Image used for representational purpose.&nbsp;</p></div>
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The Supreme Court on Friday, 16 July, told the Uttar Pradesh government that it should reconsider its decision to hold the Kanwar Yatra physically, saying that it would otherwise pass an order, Bar & Bench reported.

"State of Uttar Pradesh cannot go ahead with it. 100 percent," the court said on Friday.

This direction came in the suo motu case taken up by the apex court after Uttar Pradesh decided to permit the Kanwar Yatra.

The apex court had on Wednesday taken suo motu cognisance of the UP's nod to allow the Kanwar Yatra amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and issued a notice to the Yogi Adityanath-led government regarding the same.

The court had sought the state's response by 16 July.

According to the report, the Uttar Pradesh government has filed an affidavit saying that it only wants to hold a symbolic yatra.

Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan added that the State Disaster Management Authority deliberated upon this and decided that if someone wants to undertake the yatra physically, they should seek permission, have a negative RT-PCR test, and be fully vaccinated.

The UP government has decided that a total ban will be inappropriate, Vaidyanathan further said.

Responding to this, Justice Rohinton Nariman said, "We can give you one more opportunity to consider holding the yatra physically at all. This or else we pass an order. We are all Indians and this suo motu has been taken up as Article 21 applies to all of us. Either you reconsider to have it at all or we deliver."

"We are of the prima facie view that it concerns all of us and is at the heart of the fundamental right to life. The health of citizenry of India and right to life is paramount, all other sentiments whether be religious is subservient to this basic fundamental right."
Justice Nariman

The Supreme Court has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to inform the court about its decision on Monday.

States Should Not Allow Movement of Kanwariyas: Centre

Earlier on Friday, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that states must not permit movement of kanwariyas for bringing gangajal from Haridwar to Shiv temples of their choice, in view of COVID-19, reported Bar & Bench.

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However, the Centre in its affidavit said that considering the religious significance of the Kanwar Yatra, states should make gangajal available through tankers at designated locations.

State governments must also ensure that the distribution of gangajal amongst devotees and the rituals must be carried out in adherence to all COVID health protocols, the affidavit added.

Uttar Pradesh Calls of Yatra, UP Decides to Go Ahead

The Uttar Pradesh government took the decision to go ahead with the Yatra, which starts on 25 July, even as Uttarakhand called it off.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on 9 July, in a video conference with all the divisional commissioners of the state and senior officers of police zones, had instructed them to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed during the yatra, adding that "there should not be any hesitation regarding the safe and successful operation."

Uttarakhand, however, after initial hesitation announced its decision on 13 July to cancel the yatra.

"We discussed with higher officials and with officials from neighbouring states and decided that we will not hold Kanwar Yatra at this time. A variant has been found in Gadarpur, so we don't want to make Haridwar the centre of COVID," Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said.

(With inputs from Bar & Bench.)

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