Underscoring the importance of the Right to life, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Yogi Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh to reconsider its decision of allowing the Kanwar Yatra in a ‘symbolic manner’. The court expressed concern that the Yatra, starting from July 25, could lead to the third wave of COVID-19 infections. In a significant comment, it called the right to life more important than religious sentiments.
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had taken suo moto cognisance of the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra. The top court, on Friday, directed the UP state government to file another affidavit by Monday detailing whether it can reconsider its decision on the yatra.
During the hearing, the court observed that the Kanwar Yatra was a matter of concern for everyone and that it was an important issue with regard to Article 21 of the Indian constitution. Article 21 says that ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law’, thus guaranteeing the right to life to citizens.
The SC termed the right to life as more important than anything. “All other sentiments, even religious are subservient to this most basic fundamental rights,” it added.
The central government, in its affidavit, also called on the state governments to not allow the Kanwar Yatra. In view of the COVID-19 situation, the center asked the states to ensure the availability of gangajal in temples and not allow the Kanwariyas to go to Haridwar for the same.
The Uttarakhand government has already banned people from coming to the state for the yatra. However, the neighboring government in UP has allowed the Kanwar pilgrimage. The Kanwar Yatra involves an arduous trek participated by the devotees of Lord Shiva in the month of Shravan to take the water of the Ganga river(Gangajal) and offer it to God.