The court’s remarks came after videos of priests reportedly violating social distancing norms at temples in Badrinath and Kedarnath as part of Chardham Yatra surfaced
The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday slammed the state government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and for allowing religious events like the Kumbh Mela amid an exponential second wave of coronavirus cases.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice RS Chauhan noted that the violation of COVID-19 norms like social distancing has “embarrassed” the state.
“First we make the mistake of Kumbh Mela, then there is Chardham. Why do we repeatedly cause embarrassment to ourselves?” Chauhan was quoted as saying by reports.
“Who is supervising, or is it left to the priests? What happens if coronavirus spreads among the priests? Even when deity is being worshiped, you can’t permit twenty priests to enter, because of the small size of room,” the court added, as per Bar and Bench.
The court’s remarks came after videos of people reportedly violating social distancing norms in cities like Badrinath and Kedarnath surfaced.
Questioning whether the state government has a contingency to combat a spread of COVID-19 among priests in these temple towns, Chauhan said, “In Kedarnath and Badrinath temples, I have seen videos that social distancing is not being followed by the priests. Even if a deity is being worshipped, you can’t let 23 priests enter the temple. Who is the person appointed by the state to monitor this?”
” You can’t fool the people. We have been careless. Please get a chopper and visit Chardham, go to Kedarnath and Badrinath and see for yourself, what is happening,” he was further quoted as saying by LiveLaw.
CJ Chauhan to state: You can’t fool the people. We have been careless. Please visit #Chardham and go for yourself to see what is happening,#Kautilya said in #Arthashastra that Ministers should visit the state and get to know the reality.#UttarakhandHighCourt #COVIDManagement
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) May 20, 2021
The court also pulled up the state government over its preparedness with regards to drugs like remdesivir and the availability of doctors.
Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat had said that conducting the yatra amid the raging pandemic is not possible.
Rawat, however, had said that the “portals of the four Himalayan temples known as Chardham will open as scheduled” for priests to perform regular prayers and not for devotees.
On 21 April, the court had asked the state government to ensure that the pilgrimage is “not be allowed to turn into another Kumbh”.
With inputs from agencies
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