New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Tuesday (July 6) refused to permit Rath Yatra across Odisha except at Puri Jagannath Temple. The decision comes amidst growing concerns that mass gatherings could spark a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-judge bench was headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana. He said that the bench would not interfere with the directions passed by the state government under the Disaster Management Act.

"Last year few people died, this year many people died. We hope God will allows us these rituals next year," said CJI Ramana and refused to pass any orders in the batch of petitions seeking a direction to conduct the Rath Yatra, across many cities, besides, Puri.

The Odisha State Government had allowed and permitted to conduct the Rath Yatra only in Puri Jagannath temple with strict COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. In response to this, the SC had received several petitions seeking direction to conduct Rath Yatra across Odisha and not only in Puri Jagannath temple

"Sorry, we don't want to interfere with the government of Odisha's decision," CJI Ramana said.

"I am also feeling bad, but I can't help you. Sorry. Hope God allows Rath Yatra next year," he further added.

CJI Ramana said the state government has evaluated the COVID-19 situation in the state and there is no question of interfering.

"I myself used to go for the puja. Hopefully next year God will allow us to see. Till then watch it on TV," he said.

"You want to pray to the God. You can do it from home. I also wanted to go to Puri but I couldn't in the last one and half years. This isn't the time," the CJI told the petitioners.

Jagannath Rath Yatra is an important festival of Hindus that is organized each year at the Jagannatha temple in Puri, Odisha. On this day, the idols of Lord Jagannath and his siblings are decorated and brought to cover a 3-km-long journey in chariots drawn by hundreds of devotees. This year, the festival is scheduled for July 12.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha