SC rejects plea for full-fledged annual pilgrimage to Lord Vitthal temple in Maharashtra

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New Delhi, Jul 19 (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday refused to entertain a plea challenging denial of permission by the Maharashtra government on the ground of COVID-19 situation to hold annual pilgrimage by ‘warkaris’ of ‘Sant Namdev Maharaj Sansthan’ and other organisations to Lord Vitthal temple at Pandharpur in the state.

As per practice, pilgrims called as ‘warkaris’, along with over 250 ‘Palki’ undertake the pilgrimage by foot from their respective natives places to the Lord Vitthal temple at Pandharpur.

Considering the pandemic situation in mind, the state government has put restrictions including the fact that now 10 ‘palki’ can be taken to the temple. The plea said the state government has arbitrarily denied the permission which has violated the fundamental rights of devotees.

'You know the pandemic. You know the situation in the country. And, you want that there should be no restrictions. Sorry, we cannot do this,' a bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said. ‘Sant Namdev Maharaj Sansthan’, in its plea, said the pilgrims from Maharashtra, Chattishgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Kamataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana will face a lot of hardship in completing their ‘wari’ (pilgrimage) , which normally starts froth their home to the Temple of Lord Vitthal, since the Maharashtra has allowed only 10 ‘palki’ to perform the ritual. 'The Violation of Article 14, 19(1) (d), 21 and 25 of the Constitution. The State of Maharashtra has arbitrarily denied the permission to perform the Vari. The wari is an age-old tradition. Last year in the wake of Corona the ‘warkaris’ themselves had not pressed. But this year, people are more aware about the disease and would follow the protocol'. PTI SJK ABA MNL SJK RKS RKS

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