UP says no Kanwar Yatra this year amid Covid pandemic, SC closes matter

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Monday closed the matter related to Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh and asked the authorities to ensure that any untoward incident directly affecting the lives of the public shall be looked upon sternly and prompt action would be taken immediately.

The apex court took note of Uttar Pradesh government's submission that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kanwar Sanghs of various districts will voluntarily not take out any Yatra and they have postponed it this year keeping in mind the health and safety of public.

"Considering that the pattern of last year is to be followed by the state of Uttar Pradesh, in which it is clear that the 'Kanwar Sanghs' of the various districts have given in writing their consent that, in view of the health and safety of the public, the Kanwar yatra will be postponed this year also, it is necessary now to close this matter," a bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai said.

"We may only remind the authorities at all levels to have regard to Article 144 of the Constitution of India and ensure that untoward incidents which directly affect the lives of the public will be looked upon sternly and prompt action taken immediately, reminding the authorities of a paragraph in our order dated July 16, 2021, which is set out once again, given the importance of the Citizens' of India's Right to Life," the bench said in its order.

The bench noted the paragraph from its July 16 order in which it had said that health of the citizenry of India and their right to "life" are paramount and all other sentiments, albeit religious, are subservient to this most basic fundamental right.

The top court had last week taken suo motu cognisance of earlier media reports on Uttar Pradesh government's decision to allow Kanwar Yatra amid the pandemic.

Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, referred to the July 19 additional affidavit.

The affidavit said that pursuant to the court's July 16 order, the state government again convened a meeting of UP State Disaster Management Authority on July 17 under the chairmanship of Chief Minister.

It said additional chief secretary, Home, informed the authority that in response to state's appeal, all Kanwar Sanghs have given positive response and police commissioners, divisional commissioners, district magistrates/SSPs/SPs have clearly given their report that Kanwar Sanghs have given in writing their consent that in view of health and safety of public, Kanwar Yatra will be postponed by them this year also.

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