New Delhi: In a historic decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the centuries-old annual Rath Yatra at Jagannath Puri temple in the state of Odisha this year in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

The triple bench of apex court comprising of chief justice SA Bobde and justices Dineesh Maheshwari and AS Bopanna ordered that the Jagannath Puri yatra cannot be allowed this year in the interest of the public health and safety of the countrymen.

“If we allow this year to organise rath-yatra and other related activities then Lord Jagannath will not forgive us”, the chief justice said. He further added that a huge gathering of people cannot take place during COVID-19 epidemic. The activities related to rath yatra is injuncted.

“We have enough experience to know that if we allow any religious activity then there will be a gathering…Lord Jagannath will forgive us,” CJI Bobde remarked

The apex court has also instructed the Odisha government to not allow the yatra or any pilgrimage procession and other related activities any where in the entire state of Odisha to contain and prevent corona virus pandemic.

The order of supreme court of India came after a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Odisha based NGO ‘Odisha Vikas Parishad’ sought cancellation or postponement of the world famous rath yatra wherein millions of devotees participate across the globe.

Like every year this year too, the world famous Jagannath Puri’s rath yatra was scheduled to be held on June 23 in the state of Odisha.

All the temples, including the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri, are closed across the state for devotees since March 22 in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, Odisha’s COVID-19 tally rose to 4,338 on Wednesday as many as 175 people tested positive on Wednesday.

—— Vijay Singh Thakur