Thursday, September 29, 2022

Virtual Darshan is no Darshan: Supreme Court

Govt asked to consider re-opening of places of worship, no stay on Jharkhand HC order, no Shravani Mela either

New Delhi/Ranchi/Jamshedpur: The Supreme Court has refused to stay the July 3 Jharkhand High Court order disallowing the conduct of annual Shravani Mela ritual at Deoghar Baidyanath Temple amid Covid-19 pandemic situation.

A SC bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari passed the orders. The bench was hearing the petition filed by the BJP MP from Godda Nishikant Dubey.

Mr. Dubey had challenged the Jharkhand High Court order mandating that only priests be allowed to perform puja, while devotees can watch in virtual manner to have e-darshan.

The lawyers of the petitioner argued that around 30 thousand pandas or priests are allowed in the temple, but no devotees are being allowed.

The Bench was shocked to know this and wanted to know how such exclusion can take place when so many pandas are allowed.

Justice Mishra even remarked why should places of worship be kept closed when the entire country was in the process of unlocking.

Arguing for the state of Jharkhand, Advocate Salman Khurshid said that lockdown in the state has been extended up to Aug 31 and that the government cannot revoke its orders two days before the festival.

He said that the government has decided to close all temples and mosques seeing the pandemic situation in testate.

He said that the number of Corona cases in the state are on the rise and instead of opening darshan, the government may even choose to go for a complete lockdown.

The Court refused to stay the High Court order. But, it asked the state government to consider re-opening of places of worship wherever lockdown has been lifted.

The Supreme Court remarked: “Total restriction on darshan by public is prima facie unreasonable.”

Justice Mishra also remarked: “Virtual Darshan is no Darshan. Devotees could be allowed to participate on limited basis following social distancing guidelines. The country is opening but religious places are shut. Why? Temples, mosques and churches should also be opened for important occasions like this.”

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