The Kanwar Yatra was cancelled by the Uttar Pradesh government earlier this week on 17th July 2021, Saturday. The decision came three days after the Supreme Court took Suo Motu cognizance of the State’s decision to continue with the annual yatra despite fears of a third pandemic wave.
Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai had already requested responses from the Centre, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. On 16th July 2021, Friday, Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, told the bench that the state will merely hold a “symbolic physical” Kanwar Yatra, which will begin on 25th July 2021.
“The state of Uttar Pradesh cannot go forward with it 100 percent,” Justice Nariman informed Vaidyanathan. “Either we directly pass the order and command you or we offer you one more chance to reconsider physically holding the yatra. We are all affected by the pandemic. We are all Indian citizens. This is a Suo Motu concern since Article 21 of the Indian Constitution applies to all of us. Its purpose is to keep us all safe.”
“We are of prima facie view that it concerns all of us and is at the heart of the fundamental right to life. The health of citizenry of India and right to life is paramount, all other sentiments whether being religious is subservient to this basic fundamental right.” Court statement on 16th July 2021, Friday.
In response to the court notice, the Centre stated that instead of allowing the Yatra, the states could make arrangements to give Gangajal to devotees at designated areas. The Kanwar Yatra was also suspended by the Uttarakhand government on 13th July 2021, Tuesday, amid warnings of a probable third wave of Covid-19, the second wave of which had already proven devastating for India.