Centre moves SC, seeks nod for Puri Rath Yatra without public participation

Jagannath temple
The Ratna Bhandar is located in the basement of the Lord Jagannath temple in Puri. The Bahar Bhandar (outer chamber) stores ornaments used by the deities on a daily basis, while many pieces of jewellery are kept in the inner chamber of the treasury | Pic: PTI

The Centre on Monday (June 22) told the Supreme Court that the historic Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in Puri can be allowed to be held this year without public participation in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The tradition of centuries may not be stopped,” the Centre said, while seeking modification of the apex courts June 18 order staying the yatra. “It is a matter of faith for crores. If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per traditions,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said.

The state government can impose curfew for a day, Mehta said. The Odisha government also supported the Centres stand in the apex court, which is likely to hear the modification plea during the day itself.

The Puri Rath Yatra is attended by lakhs of people from across the world and is scheduled from June 23.

The apex court had on June 18 said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this years Rath Yatra, cannot be allowed and that “Lord Jagannath wont forgive us if we allow” it.