The Uttarakhand High Court postponed the Char Dham Yatra until further orders. On June 25, the state cabinet had decided to allow the Yatra July 1 onwards for the locals in Chamoli, Rudraprayag, and Uttarkashi districts.
Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma considered several PILs regarding health infrastructure availability in the state before issuing the order. The court also noted the recommendations of the experts.
Opinion By Experts
According to the experts, it will take 18 months to vaccinate 70% of the state's eligible population. However, even if the state is 100% vaccinated, people will still be exposed to the Delta Plus variant. They also noted how holding Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in April contributed to the steep rise of the pandemic's second wave.
The court said that the cabinet decision to hold the Yatra was against the experts' opinions and in direct violation of the Centre's directives for the control and prevention 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," read the order.
Considering the best interest of the people, the court noted that if the pilgrimage had been allowed, it would have been "inviting a catastrophe", as quoted by The Indian Express. Thus, it decided to not permit the Yatra, even in a controlled manner.
However, as an alternative, the court ordered for the live streaming of the rituals to be carried out in the sanctum sanctorum of the temples of Char Dham.
Following this, the state government released an SOP about the Covid curfew. According to the SOP, Yatra's first phase will start July 1 onwards. Only residents of the three districts can participate, provided they have tested negative for Covid through an RTPCR/TrueNat/RAT test.
In the second phase starting July 11, only Uttarakhand residents will be permitted to travel to all four shrines with a negative test report. The government will also release a detailed SOP for Char Dham Yatra separately.