SC takes suo moto cognizance of UP allowing Kanwar Yatra amid pandemic

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New Delhi [India], July 14 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of the decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to allow 'Kanwar Yatra' amid COVID-19 and asked the Centre and the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to clarify their stand on the issue.

A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman issued notice to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Centre and will hear the matter on July 16.

Uttar Pradesh has decided to continue with the 'Kanwar Yatra' despite Uttarakhand cancelling the pilgrimage this year.

Referring to a news report Justice Nariman told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that he read "something disturbing" in the newspaper today that the state of UP has chosen to continue with the Kanwar yatra, Uttarakhand with its hindsight of experience, has said that there will be no Yatra.

"We wish to know what the stand of the respective governments is. The citizens of India are completely perplexed. They don't know what is going on...," observed the Bench while also referring to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement when he met chief ministers of the Northeastern states that when people ask about the third wave of the Covid-19 virus striking the citizenry of India, it's up to us to stop it and we cannot compromise "even a bit".

It said that given the disparate political voices, all speaking at the same time, it is important that the relevant Secretary, Centre, respond to the issue.

In its order, the Bench said, "We are a little disturbed given today's headline in the newspaper about the Kanwar Yatra, which is likely to be held from July 25. This Court has taken Suo Moto cognizance of the newspaper report and thus issues notice to the Union of India and the States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to file their early response."

The Bench said that given the fact that this Yatra is to take off from July 25, it is necessary to fix a short time period for this case.

"Affidavits will be filed by Friday morning, July 16, 2021, responding to the aforesaid news article by the relevant Secretary, Union of India; Principal Secretary to the State of Uttarakhand; and Principal Secretary to the State of Uttar Pradesh. List the matter on July 16, Friday," the Bench added.

The Kanwar Yatra, in which Shiva devotees from northern states travel on foot or by other means to collect water from River Ganga at Haridwar, Uttarakhand, to offer at Shiva temples in their areas, is set to begin from July 25.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) has urged the Uttarakhand government not to go ahead with Kanwar Yatra this year. It, however, has said that a negative RT-PCR test report can be made compulsory for pilgrims if required. (ANI)

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