2020-07-13 16:47:00

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea to restrict Amarnath Yatra saying the local administrations should decide whether permission should be granted for the pilgrimage this year amid the covid-19 pandemic.

The plea filed by Amarnath Barfani Langar organization sought directions for restriction on the access of general public this year since there are nearly 9 lakh coronavirus cases in India at present. It also sought directions for “live darshan of the Lord Shri Amarnath ji Shrine”.

Giving reference to the principle of “separation of powers”, the apex court bench said the court cannot enter the arena of the executive and district administration.

Justice DY Chandrachud, heading the three-judge bench, said, “Matter must be left to competence of local administration, keeping in mind the statutory provisions.”

The bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph, observed that even in the case of Jagannath Rath Yatra, the court had modified its previous order, allowing the Puri administration to take a decision.

The court said the local administration was better equipped to take a decision based on local ground realities of the situation.

The court dismissed the plea of the petitioner, but granted liberty to the petitioners to make representations before the concerned authorities. The court held that the authorities may take appropriate decisions with respect to the representation made and ground situation.

The bench said, “It’s for the authorities to consider whether permission should be granted for the Yatra? Why should we assume that the administration will not take the right decision and start taking over the administration of various parts of the country?”

The petition had been filed against the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir administration and the shrine board.

This year’s annual Amarnath Yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir will be of 15 days, officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) that manages the affairs of the Yatra had said.

This year’s Yatra will begin on July 21 and end on August 3. The duration of the Yatra has been cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Except for the Sadhus, only pilgrims below 55 years of age will be allowed. All those undertaking the Yatra must possess cnegative certificates. “The pilgrims will be cross-checked for the virus before they are allowed to undertake the Yatra on entry into J&K”, an official of the SASB said.

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