Home / News / India /  Supreme Court order on Rath Yatra: 10 things to know

Ending days of uncertainty, the Supreme Court Monday modified its earlier order, and allowed the conduct of the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha. But its order has several conditions from curfew timing to number of people who can pull the chariot, from social distancing norms to record keeping of those who will participate in the annual religious ritual this year. Here are 10 points from the court order:

  • “We find, in one of the present applications, an affidavit filed on behalf of the State of Orissa stating that it might be possible to conduct the Rath Yatra at Puri “in a limited way without public attendance". This has been proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, who is the Chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple Administration.

“Indeed, if it is possible to ensure that there is no public attendance, we see no reason why the Rath Yatra cannot be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple," the court said in its written order Monday.

  • “All entry points into the City of Puri, i.e., airports, railway stations, bus stands, etc.,shall be closed during the period of Rath Yatra festival. The State government shall impose a curfew in the City of Puri on all the days and during all the time when Rath Yatra chariots are taken in procession.

The State Government may also impose curfew in the city of Puri on such other days and during such time as deemed necessary. During the period of curfew no one would be allowed to come out of their houses or their places of residence, such as, hotels, lodging houses, etc. To start with, the curfew shall begin tonight at 8 p.m..

  • Each Rath, i.e, Chariot, shall be pulled by not more than 500 persons. Each of those 500 persons shall be tested for the Coronavirus. They shall be permitted to pull the chariot only if they have been found negative.
  • The number 500 shall include officials and police personnel. There shall be an interval of one hour between two chariots.
  • Each of those who is engaged in pulling the chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after the Rath Yatra.
  • We are informed that certain rituals are associated with the Rath Yatra. We direct that only such persons shall be associated with the rituals, who have been found to have tested negative and shall maintain social distancing.
  • The primary responsibility for conducting the Rath Yatra in accordance with the conditions and other norms shall be that of the Committee in-charge of Puri Jagannath Temple Administration. Each member of the Committee shall be responsible for due compliance with the conditions imposed by this Court and the general directions which govern ensuring of public health issued by the Union Government. In addition, the officers designated by the state government for conduct of the Rath Yatra shall be responsible likewise.
  • The rituals and the Rath Yatra shall be freely covered by the visual media.
  • We take a note of the fact that the State of Odisha has a good record of having controlled the pandemic with a very little loss of life. We see no reason why the same attitude of care and caution should not be applied to the Rath Yatra. The state government may take such help as may be found necessary from the union government.
  • The state government shall maintain a record containing details of all those who have been allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra or the rituals connected therewith along with details of their medical conditions after testing.

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