Due to the clear link between the holding of the Kumbh Mela and the subsequent deaths, COVID should not be re-invited by allowing large gatherings at shrines: Uttarakhand HC

The Uttarakhand High Court ruled on Wednesday that the COVID pandemic should not be invited back by the State Government’s decision to allow large gatherings at religious shrines and the Char Dham Yatra. Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma of the Supreme Court asked the government to reconsider its decision to begin the Char Dham Yatra on July 1, 2021.

“Perhaps the Char Dham Yatra should be postponed or cancelled, as the Jammu and Kashmir administration has already cancelled the Amarnath Yatra,” the Court added. The Court acknowledged that the cancellation of the Yatra could cause financial hardship for Char Dham residents, but added, “It is more important to save people’s lives.”

Furthermore, the Court emphasised that the Government was free to announce “economic stimulus plans” for the benefit of businessmen and the tourism industry, which is dependent on pilgrims visiting the Char Dham. The Court also suggested that the Char Dham shrines be live streamed for the benefit of the people of the country, in order to protect the religious sentiments of the people.

“Such live streaming would allow devotees to witness the deity, pay reverence to the deity, and still save people’s lives,” the Court emphasised. The Court then directed the Chief Secretary to notify the Court of the Cabinet’s decision, if any, regarding the opening of the Char Dham Yatra on June 28, 2021.

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