The Court also asked the learned Senior Advocate appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh to file an additional affidavit by 19th July 2021.
On 14th July 2021, the Hon’ble Supreme Court took Suo Moto cognizance of the Uttar Pradesh Government’s decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Court had issued notice to the Union of India and the States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, directing them to file their response. Thereafter the matter was listed to be heard on 16th July 2021. Thereon, affidavits were filed by the Union of India and the States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Submissions before the Court
The affidavit filed by the State of Uttar Pradesh submitted that the SDMA had initially directed people not to undertake the Yatra. However, it was decided that the people who still wished to undertake the Kanwar Yatra should be fully vaccinated and carry a negative RTPCR test certificate. It was stated that strict guidelines would be implemented after consulting with the Health Department and that Covid protocol would be followed. Details’ pertaining to a ‘symbolic’ physical Kanwar Yatra was also explained in the affidavit.
Observations concerning Kanwar Yatra
According to the Court, the matter concerning Kanwar Yatra concerns every citizen of India and that it “goes to the very heart of Article 21 of the Constitution, which has a pride of place in the fundamental rights chapter of our Constitution.”
Furthermore, the Court observed that the Right to health and the Right to life were paramount to religious sentiments.
Supreme Court Asks to Reconsider the Symbolic Yatra
The Court granted the learned Senior Advocate appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, time till 19th July 2021 to file an additional affidavit in response to the question asked by the Court whether owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the looming threat of a third wave, “the authorities would in a position to reconsider holding or the allowing, for compelling religions reasons, of this Yatra in physical form at all.” Thereafter, the Court listed the matter to be heard on 19th July 2021.