The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to interfere with the Aam Aadmi Party-led government’s decision to ban Chhath Puja celebrations in public spaces such as ponds and riverbanks, in view of the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported.

Chhath Puja will be celebrated on November 20 this year. People stand in rivers and lakes and perform rituals. Last year, devotees celebrating the festival in Delhi were seen standing knee-deep in toxic foam that had formed on the surface of Yamuna.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said allowing something like this could act as a super spreader of the infection. “In today’s day and time, such a petition is belied by the ground reality,” the High Court observed and dismissed the petition as being meritless.

The Delhi government had banned Chhath Puja celebrations at temples and river banks last week amid a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. The Bharatiya Janata Party had criticised the order and demanded that people be allowed to observe the festival.

Delhi has witnessed a spurt in coronavirus cases since October 28 when the daily rise breached the 5,000-mark for the first time and it crossed the 8,000-mark on November 11. On Tuesday, Delhi recorded 6,396 cases and 99 deaths. The Capital’s tally rose to 4,95,598 and the toll reached 7,812. The sudden surge in coronavirus cases came amid the festive season and rising pollution levels in the Capital.

On November 16, Jharkhand had also ordered a ban on Chhath Puja celebrations in water bodies, observing that it would have been impossible to maintain distance while performing the rituals. “Therefore Chhath Puja in the waters of public ponds/rivers/lakes/dams/reservoirs will not be permitted, so as to minimise the chances of spread of Covid-19 infection,” it said in the order.

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