The Gujarat High Court, in an order passed at 2 am on Tuesday, refused to review its decision to not allow the Jagannath Rath Yatra to take place in Ahmedabad amid rising coronavirus cases, Bar and Bench reported. Gujarat is one of India’s worst-hit states with over 27,000 coronavirus cases, including 1,663 deaths. Ahmedabad alone has nearly 19,000 cases.
The Gujarat government approached the High Court late on Monday, requesting the bench to allow the 142-year-old tradition and consider the religious importance attached to it. The state government cited the Supreme Court order allowing Odisha to conduct the Rath Yatra in Puri with necessary restrictions.
“There may not be denial about the order passed by the Supreme Court today, but the situation in Ahmedabad on account of pandemic of Covid-19 cannot be compared with the situation in Puri or in the state of Odisha,” a bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala told the Gujarat government. “Despite the fact that assurance being given by the state and all other applicants, we still do not find any good ground to recall or modify our order dated June 20.”
After the court’s order, the Rath Yatra took place only inside the premises of the Shree Jagannathji Temple in Ahmedabad. Devotees were seen wearing protective masks but stood very close together. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also attend the ritual.
On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed the Odisha government to conductRath Yatra at the Jagannath Temple in Puri in a restricted manner. The court, however, said that it cannot “micro-manage” the rituals and left it to the state government, the Centre and the temple management to organise the event without compromising the health of devotees.
The religious rituals are scheduled to start from Tuesday. The Odisha government has imposed a complete shutdown in Puri from 8 pm on Monday till 2 pm on Wednesday. The government also said that it will conduct coronavirus test on 1,500 people who will pull chariots for the yatra.