Ratha Jatra: Puri Gajapati urges Odisha CM to move SC seeking review of its stay order

Bhubaneswar: Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb today requested the State government to consider approaching the Supreme Court for a partial modification of its stay order on annual Ratha Jatra in view of COVID-19 situation.

In a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the Puri Gajapati said the Srimandir Managing Committee also sought the view of the Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati who is also having similar view of approaching the apex court to reconsider and modify its order to ensure the conduct of Ratha Jatra in Puri.

The letter further said the managing committee and the Chhatisa Nijog unanimously decided to appeal to the state government to immediately move the Supreme Court for a modification of the court’s order to allow the world-famous Ratha Jatra in Puri.

It said performance of the annual Ratha Jatra in Puri is sanctioned and mandated by sacred scriptures, such as Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana, Neeladri Mahodaya, Bamadeba Samhita etc.

“In the course of Odisha’s long history, Ratha Jatra has not been held only when conduct of the Jatra has become impossible as for instance during attacks by Mughal forces during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, when the Lords had to be hidden in remote places,” it said.

The present grave crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic is not a situation which renders impossible conduct of Ratha Jatra since as suggested by the temple managing committee at its meeting on May 30, 2020, the Jatra in Puri can be held without any congregation of general public and with the State government taking appropriate steps to prevent spread of COVID, the Gajapati’s letter said.

The conduct of the annual Ratha Jatra on the prescribed day is statutorily mandated by record of rights framed under the Puri Shri Jagnnath Temple Administration Act 1952. Under section 15 (1) of Shri Jagannath Temple Act 1955 the managing committee of the temple is statutorily bound to ensure conduct of Ratha Jatra in accordance with the record of rights, it mentioned.

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1 Comment
  1. Prakash C Mohanty says

    It is so unfortunate that the initial Apex court order comes at such late stage with very little time to ask for review. As I understand the Apex court cannot review until Monday, june 22. Even if the Apex court agrees and allows the Rath Yatra to proceed as being suggested without the presence of devotees and total curfew to ban anybody entering the path of the Rath Yatra except for the police and the authorized temple personnel , is it physically possible to have the Rath Yatra on June 23? There has to be enough manpower or heavy mechanical equipment and elephants as suggested by the Odisha High court. Can all the above logistics be arranged in the time left between a favorable (assuming) Apex court ruling on Monday and the actual start time of the Rath Yatra on June 23?
    There have been some inexcusable lapses on the part of the authorities having jurisdiction for the Rath Yatra. I am simply at a loss (being ignorant of the laws) to understand how an NGO could take the case to the Apex court when the approving authority (in this case the Odisha govt) had not even given its verdict. Everyone is fully aware of the dire health and economic crises we are in due to the pandemic, the severity of the kind has not been experienced in many people’s lifetime. One did not have to be genius to rationally conclude that normal Rath Yatra may not be possible this year soon after the pandemic started and the subsequent lock downs and other measures taken to slow the spread of the virus. All the stakeholders should have come up with an alternate plan soon after the Home Ministry allowed Rath construction to proceed with strict constraints and left it to the State Government for its decision on the Rath Yatra. Lack of alternative planning indicates that the stake holders were not serious about the gravity of a contingency plan.
    The state government has all the data on the pandemic and should have informed the public if the modified version of the Rath Yatra as mentioned above is acceptable to the govt or not in view of the health risk. It is unfortunate that the state government failed not being transparent in communicating its decision in a timely manner and kept all guessing until the Apex court ruling. Puri Rath Yatra is very personal to the people of Odisha and I am not surprised to see them devastated watching TV news since the Apex court ruling. There is no other alternative but to accept whatever is the outcome on Monday

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