Nation

Right to life is paramount, consider not holding even ‘symbolic’ Kanwar Yatra in view of COVID-19: Supreme Court to UP govt

New Delhi: Keeping in mind the health of its citizens amid the pandemic, the Supreme Court has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to consider not holding even “symbolic” Kanwar Yatra in the state. The Uttar Pradesh government had told the Supreme Court that it has decided to hold “symbolic” Kanwar Yatra with appropriate COVID-19 restrictions. However, the apex court said the right to life is paramount and all kind of sentiments are subservient to Article 21 of Constitution.

A bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai said that it the Uttar Pradesh government cannot be allowed to hold Kanwar Yatra in view of Covid. The next hearing has been set for Monday (July 19).

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the Centre told the top court that states shall not be allowed to hold Kanwar Yatra in view of Covid and arrangements for Ganga water should be made by tankers at specified places. The counsel for Uttarakhand told the top court that it has by its notification has decided to ban Kanwar Yatra for this year due to COVID-19.

Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to allow Kanwar Yatra from July 25, with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directing the officials to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol and safety of the yatris. But the Uttarakhand government has cancelled the Kanwar Yatra in view of a possible third wave.

On July 14, the top court had had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports on the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow ‘Kanwar Yatra’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and sought responses from the state as well as the Centre “given the disparate political voices” on the matter. It had referred to the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that not even a bit of compromise can be made on COVID-19 containment and said the citizens were perplexed about the happenings in view of the fact that the UP government has allowed the religious ‘yatra’ commencing from July 25. It had issued notices to the Centre and the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.