By- Simran Dadhich
On Friday the Supreme Court of India stated that witnessing temple rituals through live streaming cannot be a substitute for the physical visits of places of worship.
It stated that temples, churches, and mosques can be opened for the public on some special occasions during the unlock phase.
A limited number of worshippers could be permitted in temples during the unlock phase with adequate and require safety measures and maintaining social distancing, suggested a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra
Justice Mishra questioned that during the unlock period when all other things are functioning then why the state can’t manage temples? He stated that E darshan is no darshan. During lockdown things were different but now temples, churches, mosques can be reopened for devotees adhering adequate safety and social distancing measures.
The bench heard a plea by Member of Parliament, Nishikant Dubey seeking a direction to the state of Jharkhand and the central government to open Baba Baidhyanath Jyotirlinga Temple at Deoghar and Baba Basukinath Temple at Basukinath to the public and to further allow the ‘Shravani Mela’ devotees to offer prayer during the holy months of Shravan and Bhadra.
The High Court dismissed the pleading on July 3 stating that the accumulation of such large no people can severely impact the coronavirus situation in the state.
The Jharkhand State government opposed the plea stating the threat of deadly coronavirus disease. The government stated that it would be streaming all the temple rituals on the internet for devotees.
The apex court then did not pass any guidelines but asked the Jharkhand government to look for measures to allow at least a few worshippers to visit the temple daily.
The court stated that they are not compelled to bypass orders but requesting state government to search for a possibility and work out a mechanism for permitting darshan to the devotee.
The people asked for similar intervention by the Supreme Court in the Puri Jagannath Ratha Yatra in June.
Dubey then visited the Supreme Court on July 8.
the court was informed on Friday by senior counsel Salman Khurshid and additional advocate general Tapesh Kumar Singh, appearing for Jharkhand, that the state has arranged for online darshan of the temple rituals and argued against opening the temple to the general public.
He also stated that serum testing is being conducted throughout the state and considering its result lockdown will be imposed. It was also stated that some of the temples are very narrow so it would be quite a task to maintain social distancing.
Samir Malik pointed out that though the Baidyanath temple is not closed for the general public around 30,000 priests are allowed inside the temple.
The state government replied that a limited number of priests are allowed to enter sanctum sanctorum of the temple rest stay in the premises.
“We are alarmed by this,” the court stated that the state shall make arrangements to avoid entry of a large number of pundits so as to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in the state.