SC turns down plea for restrictions on Amarnath Yatra for Covid-19

The Supreme Court Monday refused to entertain a plea which sought directions for restriction for the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed a PIL filed by Shri Amarnath Barfani Langars Organization.

The Court left it to the local administration and refused to interfere with the steps they were taking by restricting pilgrims this year. The Court cited the principle of separation of powers and said the administration would take a call on it.

The PIL by Shri Amarnath Barfani Langars Organisation had sought a direction to the Centre, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board to restrict the access of pilgrims in the Yatra this year in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plea had also sought a direction for ‘live darshan’ of Lord Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine on the internet and television.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has already curtailed the Amarnath yatra to a 12-day affair and has limited the number of pilgrims who will be allowed to prooceed to the Amarnath caves every day. The pilgrimage is likely to be held from July 21 to August 3.

A thousand pilgrims will be allowed to take a helicopter ride and another 500 will be allowed on foot through the shorter Baltal route each day of the pilgrimage.

Earlier this month, Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said the pilgrimage would have to be undertaken in a restricted manner so that the SoPs to contain the spread of Covid-19 can be strictly enforced.

Subrahmanyam said that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Executive Committee constituted under the Disaster Management Act has issued SoPs which among other things prescribe 100% RT-PCR test for all persons travelling into Jammu and Kashmir. Anyone travelling to J&K will have to be sampled, tested and quarantined till they are reported to be negative.

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