Bipartisanship of Administration and Judiciary with Hindu festivals

Why is it that the Administration does not place restrictions on the festivals of other religions ? Is this the meaning of ‘equal respect for all religions’ ?

If SC had treated all PILs suo moto, serious damage to health by the 2nd wave of coronavirus could have been avoided !

Over the past year and a half, various State Governments have placed many restrictions on gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders and activists of political parties are not following these restrictions and organising various events. Minorities are also celebrating their festivals (events such as Mushaira), coming together in thousands without any fear of rules. At the same time, various restrictions are being placed on the celebration of Hindu festivals by the Government and the Judiciary. Therefore, it is evident that all such rules are meant for Hindus only and benefits for the minorities.
H.H. (Adv.) Suresh Kulkarni

1. Supreme Court took cognizance of the ancient tradition of Kanwar Yatra and forced the Uttar Pradesh Government to ban it

Kanwar Yatra has a long tradition in the month of Shravan in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and some other States. Devotees bring the Holy water of River Ganga and bathe Deity Shiva in their village or city. What is special is that these Yatras are undertaken with devotion and pilgrims walking barefoot all the way.

The Supreme Court admitted a Public Interest Litigation (Suo moto) against the Yatra and sent notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh Government. The Court asked, “Why did the Uttar Pradesh Government allow the Yatra when the second wave of coronavirus was just under control and there was great fear of a third wave ?” In his reply, the Home Secretary of UP said, “We have discussed the issue of Kanwar Yatra with some organisations and decided to ban it”. However, in exceptional religious circumstances, if it is not possible to avoid the Yatra, it can be performed with the permission of the District Magistrate. Some conditions have been laid down for this. Those who have taken both doses of the vaccine and those who have been tested with RT PCR may be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage in exceptional circumstances. Later, the Court made it clear that it does not want to see a single Kanwar pilgrim on the road.

2. Government of Maharashtra prevented the traditional Pandharpur centuries-old pilgrimage

On Ashadhi Ekadashi, devotees from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh come in large numbers to Pandharpur. Hundreds of devotees from Maharashtra go on foot to pay homage to Deity Viththal. Of these congregations (of devotees), 10 are prominent which invite respect of all devotees. Considering the seriousness of the coronavirus in 2020, Saints and many Varkaris voluntarily agreed that they would not take out processions and considered the Government’s order as final. However, this year, some senior Varkaris headed by Santveer HBP Bandatatya Karadkar refused to accept this order. All these senior Varkaris said, ‘In Maharashtra, liquor shops, all types of entertainment, restaurants, gyms, grounds, swimming pools, trade are open. Various sports matches are also being organised. Then, why does the Government ban only religious activities when there is no ban on all the above establishments’. The administration took an authoritarian stance and arrested Varkaris along with HBP Karadkar.

3. Various concessions to political parties and their activists for infringing restrictions

A. Hundreds of activists and Deputy Chief Minister were present for the inauguration of the NCP office in Pune on 19th June 2021. Coronavirus restrictions were not observed by this crowd. If anyone objects to such things, the Police pretend to take action, register crimes for namesake only, but no action is taken against the leaders who gather crowds.

B. On 4th July 2021, activists of a religious fanatic party organised a Mushaira near the Devagiri fort at Aurangabad. This continued till midnight. Thousands of Rupees were squandered on the MP present. All coronavirus rules were trampled upon, Police were mute spectators. Criminal cases may have been filed against 2-4 organisers too. Why this hypocrisy ?

C. In March-April 2021, when the second wave of coronavirus was imminent, elections were held in some States – Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Millions of people from all parties gathered in the streets and took out processions. As a result, the corona spread.

D. Farmers’ agitation has been going on in Delhi for the past one year. The Supreme Court instructed that it be suspended. The Central Government has said that agricultural laws will not be implemented for one and a half years, but the agitation is going on.

E. The Communist Government of Kerala relaxed coronavirus restrictions for 3 days for the minorities to celebrate Eid. As a result, coronavirus infection increased in Kerala.

4. If Judiciary had exercised its authority in this place too, many lives could have been saved

Police take action against bikers, force them to pay fines, lodge a crime against them if they do not wear masks; however, no such crime has ever been lodged against political leaders. Does this mean that laws are only for the poor ?

If the Supreme Court had treated all PILs (such as the one’s mentioned above with a serious intention) suo moto, serious damage to health by the second wave of coronavirus could have been avoided. India’s population of more than 100 crore has more faith in Judiciary.

– H.H. Suresh Kulkarni (Founder Member of Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad and Advocate practising in Bombay High Court)