Rath Yatra in Odisha (in pic), Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh, annual Vitthal temple pilgrimage in Maharashtra, and Bakrid in Kerala—other than religious events, there’s another common factor. The Supreme Court has been forced to play doorkeeper to festivals of faith in pandemic time that demands strict adherence to health protocols such as social distancing and preventing crowding—quite an impossibility so far as congregations are concerned. The top court has so far kept its faith in science and given precedence to human life.
The SC didn’t allow a full-scale Rath Yatra, it told the UP government to cancel the Kanwar Yatra, observing that all sentiments, including religious, are subservient to the Right to Life. It refused to entertain a plea challenging the Maharashtra government’s ban on the annual pilgrimage to the Vitthal temple at Pandharpur in the state. And this week, it came down heavily on the Kerala government for relaxing Covid restrictions for Bakrid, or Eid-ul-Adha, saying giving in to pressure groups discloses a “sorry state of affairs”. The court observed that such groups cannot interfere with people’s fundamental right to life.