Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and J.B. Pardiwala, J., held that in view of present times of outbreak of COVID-19, there shall be no Rath Yatra at Ahmedabad and any of the districts in the State of Gujarat.

Interim relief sought in the present matter is with regard to restraining the carrying out of the Rath Yatra organised by Shri Jagannath Mandir Trust in the wake of present situation of COVID-19 an in particular relation to Ahmedabad where a huge number of COVID positive cases and mortality rate being highest has been found.

Another point that is to be noted is that once the procession starts, it would be very difficult to stop the public at large from joining the Rath Yatra.

It has been submitted by Senior Advocate, Anshin Desai that Supreme Court in the case Vikash Parishad v. UOI, Writ Petition (Civil) No 571 of 2020, directed that there shall be no Rath Yatra anywhere in the temple town of Odisha or in any other part of the State this year. It is further directed that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the Rath Yatra during this period.

Since 18-05-2020, decision on the application with regard to appropriate permission has been pending with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and police commissioner, Ahmedabad.

Advocate General, Kamal Trivedi also accepted the above stated stand with regard to the permission.

Court stated that it is astonished on the inaction of Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as also the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad, as to why no decision was taken and communicated to the organizer well within time, rather than keeping the matter pending till the last date when the Rath Yatra is to be carried out on 23-06-2020. 

Thus, in view of the above, bench requires the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad as also the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Home, Government of Gujarat to file their respective affidavits with an explanation on why the above-mentioned application was not disposed of.

In view of the above facts and circumstances along with the Supreme Court Order, in the present matter, High Court directed that there shall be no Rath Yatra carried out this year at Ahmedabad and at any district in Gujarat.

Adding to the above, Court also directed that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the Rath Yatra during this period of COVID-19.

Matter to be listed on 6-07-2020.[Hitesh Kumar Vittalbhai Chavda v. Shri Jagannathji Mandir Trust, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 910 , decided on 20-06-2020]

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