'Right to life is paramount': SC asks UP to reconsider its stand on conducting 'symbolic' Kanwar Yatra
The top court's direction came after the Uttar Pradesh government told the bench that it has decided after relevant discussions to hold a "symbolic" Kanwar Yatra with appropriate Covid restrictions.
NEW DELHI: Giving the Uttar Pradesh government one last chance to reconsider its decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra amid the pandemic, the Supreme Court on Friday emphasised that the right to life is paramount while all other sentiments, including religious, are subservient to it.
Hearing a suo motu case, a bench of justices R F Nariman and Ajay Rastogi said no physical congregation can be allowed and gave the Yogi Adityanath government time till Monday to take its final call. “UP cannot go ahead with physical yatra. Either we will pass orders directly, or will give you one more opportunity to reconsider your decision,” the court told senior advocate C S Vaidynathan, who appeared for the UP government. The yatra had been cancelled last year, too, amid the first wave.
During the hearing, Vaidyanathan spelt out the raft of safety measures taken by the UP government to hold the yatra. While kanwariyas have been generally advised to skip it, those determined to perform the yatra need to apply for registration, have to be fully vaccinated and also produce a negative RT-PCR report, which is not more than three days old, he told the bench.
“The yatra would be symbolic,” he said, and sought to invoke the right to religion. UP plans to station Ganga water tankers at key locations from where kanwariyas can collect it and perform abhishekam at a nearby Shiv temple. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Centre was against the yatra to Haridwar. Taking note of both the stands, the bench said it “goes at the very heart of Article 21... The rest of the citizenry of India and their right to life are paramount. All other sentiments, including religious, are subservient to this most basic fundamental right.”