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At most 500 people can pull chariot and all to be tested for Covid-19: SC on Puri Rath Yatra

Priests and devotees celebrate after Supreme Court indicated it would allow the annual Rath Yatra, scheduled to start from tomorrow, in Puri (PTI)Premium
Priests and devotees celebrate after Supreme Court indicated it would allow the annual Rath Yatra, scheduled to start from tomorrow, in Puri (PTI)

  • Rath Yatra at Puri can be allowed with no public attendance, said SC in today's decision
  • Those engaged in pulling chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after Rath Yatra, said SC

After allowing Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri on Monday with certain conditions, the Supreme Court asked the state government and the Centre to work in tandem. The Rath Yatra is slated to take place on 23 June.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde along with Senior Advocate Harish Salve and SG Tushar Mehta also 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.

Rath Yatra at Puri can be allowed with no public attendance, SC had said in order uploaded on its website.

In view of Rath Yatra being held during the pandemic, the apex court directed that not more than 500 people will be allowed to pull each Rath during the procession and all of them will be tested for coronavirus.

"They (the chariot pullers) shall be permitted to pull the chariot only if they have been found negative (for Covid-19). The number 500 to include officials and police personnel," SC said in a statement.

Those engaged in pulling chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after Rath Yatra, said SC. The top court also directed Odisha government to impose curfew in Puri City during the time when Rath Yatra chariots are taken in procession.

Moreover, the state government should also maintain record of persons allowed in Rath Yatra with details of medical conditions after testing.

However, SC also stated that the rituals of the Rath Yatra shall be freely covered by virtual media and the state government should allow TC cameras and crew for its coverage.

Additionally, the Odisha government announced complete shutdown in Puri district from 9 pm on Monday till Wednesday 2 pm, earlier today.

Considering the situation and current crucial times, Odisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik said "Holding the RathYatra in Puri amid COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge. Festival must be celebrated by striking perfect balance between centuries-old traditions & public health."

The Supreme Court on Monday modified its earlier order and allowed the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra in Odisha's Puri to be held with the coordination of the Temple committee, State and Central government without compromising with the health issue pertaining to Covid-19.

Congratulating the decision by SC, Home Minister Amit Shah earlier today said entire nation is delighted by Supreme Court decision to ensure Jagannath Rath Yatra goes on.

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