A division bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma has ordered to stay the decision of the Uttarakhand State Cabinet to hold Chardham Yatra, calling the decision ‘arbitrary and unreasonable and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India’, directing the government to carry out the ceremonies within the Chardham Temples and live-stream the events for the benfit the people.
Pursuant to the Government Order dated June 25th , 2021, permitting the opening of the Chardham Yatra from July 1st, 2021 to a limited extent, the court, taking note of the deplorable condition of the State during the second wave of pandemic and the potential third wave, observed that, “The decision of the Hon'ble Cabinet dated 25.06.2021 would not only permit the people of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri to congregate at the shrines, but would also permit the people of the respective districts to gather at their respective temples. Thus, the Cabinet decision contravenes the directions issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court."
The Court further ruled that, “The decision of the Cabinet will unnecessarily expose the people to the dangers of the third wave. Thus, the decision is against Article 21 of the Constitution of India, against Articles 39(e) & 39(f) and against Article 47 of the Constitution of India. It also ignores India's commitment to the International Conventions."
Observing that the SOP for the Chardham Yatra do not contain several instructions as to how the guidelines would be implemented, considering the health issues and the impact of the first and the second wave and further taking note of the Supreme Court’s decision to bar the entry of local people in the Rath Yatra, the Uttarakhand High Court ruled that it would be in the public interest and in the interest of justice to stay the operation of the decision of the Cabinet and directed the state to not permit pilgrims to reach the temples during the four-weeks of the Yatra.