Corona quagmire// Art.25 of the Constitution of India saves the people

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Corona quagmire could have been absolutely unfathomable had the Car Festival (Rath Yatra) of SriJagannatha in Puri, Orissa not have been stopped by the Supreme Court of India as per Article 25 of the Constitution.

Captioned “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion”, this Article says”

Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion

(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus
Explanation I – The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion
Explanation II – In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.

The humanitarian order in Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s)572/2020, between Odisha Vikash Parisad and Union of India and others is extracted below:

It is not disputed that the number of people that are likely to gather for the annual Rath Yatra scheduled to be held from 23rd June, 2020, is going to be about 10 to 12 lakhs. The festivities normally continue for a period of 10 to 12 days, Having regard to the danger presented by such a large gathering of the people for the Rath Yatra, we consider it appropriate in the interest of the public health and safety of citizens who are devotees to restrain the respondents from holdingthe Rath Yatra this year. Article 25 of the Constitutin of Inda itself confers the right to freely profess and propagate religion subject to health.

We accordingly direct that there shall be no Rath Yatra anywhere in the temple town of Odisha or in any other part of the State this year.

We further direct that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the Rath Yatra during this period.

In a prompt meeting in the evening, the Orissa Cabinet has resolved to abide by the Order,

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