The Supreme Court has refused to allow Rath Yatras in Odisha in locations other than the Puri Jagannath Temple.

The Supreme Court rejected a batch of petitions on Tuesday, asking for permission to keep Rath Yatras at the same level as the iconic Puri Jagannath temple in other Orissa temples. It claimed that because the country is still recovering from the second wave of Covid-19, the Odisha government made a deliberate decision.

“I feel bad as well, but there is nothing we can do about it. I’m hoping that the next Rath Yatra will be permitted by God “CJI Ramana stated this while dismissing the petitions, citing the Covid-19 situation.

The CJI also stated that he had planned to travel to Puri for the Rath Yatra, but due to the country’s public health situation, he has decided to worship at home. As part of COVID pandemic control measures, the administration limited rath yatras.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy heard a writ petition filed by Odisha Vikas Parishad.

Previously, the Orissa High Court denied permission to hold Rath Yatras in other places, stating that Puri “represents a class apart.” This was implicitly recognised by the Supreme Court in last year’s decision in Odisha Bikash Parishad v. Union of India, in which specific directions were issued in relation to the holding of the Ratha Yatra in Puri during the first covid wave.

According to the High Court order, “these are extraordinary times in which not only Odisha, but the entire country, is barely recovering from the second wave of the lethal Covid pandemic.” The state of Odisha’s measures and precautions must be viewed in this context.

As a result, this Court is unlikely to entertain any of the prayers in any of the preceding writ petitions, which seek permission to hold their respective Rath yatras/festivals on parity with the temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri.”

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