Today, on the occasion of Rath Yatra, there was an emergency hearing at Calcutta High Court discussing a petition filed by Manoj Mishra seeking relief against a previous order dated June 16, 2023.
Facts of the Case:
The petitioners had approached the court seeking permission for the Rath Yatra procession for this year in a particular area in Sankrail, Howrah on June 16, 2023.
The court had initially directed the petitioner to approach the appropriate police authorities for the permission for such a procession, on June 16, 2023. When approached, the Sankrail Police Station said that the procession could not be allowed in that area.
They further instructed that the idol should be carried physically from the Jagannath Temple near the Delta Jute Mill to Beltala More and from there, the idol could proceed on the chariot towards KDT Pole and so on, as needed.
Due to such a short notice, Adv Amal Kr. Sen, the advocate appearing for the State, could not obtain the said permission and instructions from the Commissioner of the Police, Howrah and Sankrail Police Station on that said day.
The petitioners urgently requested a modification to such a notification instructed by the police and allow them to carry the idol in a chariot from the temple itself.
The Court heard both the parties, Advocates Mr. Phiroze Edulji, Mr. Ajit Mishra, Mr. Manabendra Bandapadhyay, Mr. Ravi Ranjan Kumar, Mr. Abhishek Dey, Mr. B. Singh representing the petitioners and Advocates Mr. Amitesh Banerjee, Mr. Amal Kr. Sen, Mr. Lal Mohan Basu representing the State.
Order passed by the Court:
After hearing them, the bench, presided by Justice Rajasekhar Mantha adjourned the case and said that the police mandate instructing the idol to be carried physically, without the chariot for a part of the procession amounts to an interference to religious practices.
He said that according to mythology and folklore, Rath Yatra is the trip taken by Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra to visit their sister’s house or aunt’s to check on her. This entire trip on a chariot from their house to their sister’s house or aunt’s house is the main significance of Rath Yatra. He commented “ Such festival and practice has been followed in this Country for thousands of years.”
Accordingly, he went on saying that the police dictating the idol be carried physically without a chariot for even a part of the procession “would negate, defeat and compromise the object and purpose of the Rathyatra.”
He moreover said, if there was “any anticipation of any vested interest or elements to disrupt the religious function, appropriate and stern procedural measures shall be taken by the police.”
Rath Yatra briefly described:
Rath Yatra, also known as Chariot festival, is an annual tradition celebrated in Eastern States of India. The name “Rath Yatra”, means Chariot Trip. It is a procession led by a chariot which is boarded by the Hindu Gods, Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and his sister, Subhadra. The chariot is usually wooden and built in a particular shape, and pulled by the public in the procession. According to mythology, this trip originates in Puri, Orissa and marks an important event, where the three Gods visit their aunt’s house, Gundicha Temple, stay for a week and return back to their abode.