Home Dehradun HC stays Cabinet decision permitting Char Dham Yatra from 1 July

HC stays Cabinet decision permitting Char Dham Yatra from 1 July

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By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 28 Jun: The Uttarakhand High Court today stayed the Government decision permitting the Char Dham Yatra from 1 July. The High Court has stated that it could not permit the Yatra with incomplete preparedness on the part of the government! The stay comes while hearing a PIL filed by advocates Dushyant Mainali, Sachidhanand Dabral and Anu Pant.
The Court while staying the government decision to start the Char Dham Yatra directed the government to arrange for live broadcast of the worship being performed at the shrines. The government decision was stayed by a division bench headed by Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma. The next hearing in the case has been fixed for 7 July.
It may be recalled that the Uttarakhand Cabinet had approved a proposal to start the Char Dham Yatra from 1 July. The decision allowed residents of Chamoli district to visit Badrinath Dham, residents of Rudraprayag to visit Kedarnath Dham and residents of Uttarkashi to visit Gangotri and Yamunotri. However, the decision has now been stayed by the High Court.
The Court observed that it was not satisfied with the preparations of the Government for the Char Dham Yatra. The government, on its part, had made vaccination of pilgrimage priests mandatory and this exercise is being continued. In addition, all the pilgrims were required to produce a negative RTPCR or Rapid Antigen report in order to be permitted to undertake the Yatra.
Hearing the PIL filed claiming risk of possible spread of infection due to poor health infrastructure and incomplete preparations of the government, the Bench also observed that it was not satisfied with the SOP issued by the government in this regard, which is a copy of the one issued by for the Haridwar Kumbh.
In the virtual hearing, state Chief Secretary Om Prakash along with other senior officers also appeared before the court. The SOP issued by the government regarding the Chardham Yatra was presented along with the affidavit in the court. The court said that, in this SOP, the deployment of police in Haridwar district had been mentioned, which showed how serious the government was regarding the Yatra. On the plea of the government that the priests would oppose the decision, the Court stated that it knew how to take care of the religious sentiments of the public as well, as be concerned about the public health. The Court added that when the scriptures were written, modern techniques were not available. However, there were live broadcasts from many major temples across the country and the state government would be directed to start similar broadcasts of the worship performed at Char Dham Shrines. The Court further stated that it was more important to save the lives of people from the Delta Plus variant of Corona than in the interest of particular people and priests. The government too ought to give priority to the larger public interest in this matter.
Sources in the government claimed that the government could challenge the stay granted by the High Court in the Supreme Court, but there was no official confirmation about this as yet. Minister Subodh Uniyal stated that the court order was still awaited and the response would come after its perusal.