“Right To Life Paramount” Reconsider Kanwar Yatra: Supreme Court To UP

The Supreme Court’s statement came after the UP government told the court that it will allow a symbolic Kanwar yatra, and that vaccinated devotees will be given permission.

The Supreme Court has asked the Uttar Pradesh government today to re-consider holding even a ‘symbolic’ Kanwar Yatra in view of the third wave threat of the pandemic. “All other sentiments whether be religious is subservient to this basic fundamental right,” the court said.

“We are, of prima facie view, that it concerns all of us and is at the heart of the fundamental right to life. The health of citizenry of India and right to life is paramount, all other sentiments, whether it be religious (or otherwise), are subservient to this basic fundamental right,” said the two-judge bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai.

The court said that, if the Yogi Adityanath government failed to reconsider the court’s decision to hold the yatra, the court would be forced to pass an order.

“We can give you one more opportunity to consider holding yatra physically at all. This or else we pass an order. We are all Indians and this suo motu has been taken up as Article 21 applies to all of us. Either you reconsider to have it at all or we deliver,” it said.

Also read: “Unparalleled Handling of the Second Covid-19 Wave By Uttar Pradesh”: PM Modi Praises Yogi Adityanath

“The UP Disaster Management Authority discussed this issue and said those who undertake the yatra must be fully vaccinated. Gangajal is being kept at tankers at locations,” the UP government’s lawyer, CS Vaidyanathan, told the court.

To this Justice Nariman, who was heading the bench, said: “We all are citizens of India… Article 21 – right to life – applies to all. UP cannot go ahead with physical yatra. 100 per cent”.

Appearing for the centre, Solicitor General Tushar took a pragmatic position, balancing the potential impact on people’s health with religious feelings.

“This is an age-old custom and considering religious sentiments, states must develop a system to make holy Gangajal available through tankers. States must ensure distribution of Gangajal amongst devotees should follow social distancing, adhering to all protocols,” the Centre told the court.

The top court, earlier this week had issued notice to the UP government over its decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra.

The Supreme court, which took up the matter suo motu, said citizens were “perplexed” by the Kanwar yatra being permitted at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and medical experts have warned against large gatherings and urged people to follow social distancing and other Covid protocols.

Last year, too, amid the first wave, the yatra had been cancelled.

The next hearing is set for Monday.

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