Health above faith: On cancellation of Kanwar Yatra

SC lays down salutary principle that right to life must override religious sentiments

Despite the fact that the organisation of the Kumbh Mela earlier this year was seen as responsible for a surge in infections in the run-up to the disastrous second wave that overpowered the country’s health system for weeks, there are sections that believe that rituals and gatherings associated with religious faith must be allowed with some restrictions. There may be a case for relaxations aimed at economic revival and restoration of normality in most parts of the country, but there really is none when it comes to choosing between religious rights and the right to life and safety. The easing of lockdown restrictions for three days in Kerala to help people celebrate Bakrid is a case in point. It has attracted justified criticism, as any relaxation after a long spell of severe curbs will have to be based on a scientific assessment of the number of daily infections, the rate of positivity and signs of abatement. Kerala is one of the States whose daily numbers are causing concern, and the easing of restrictions defies logic and flies in the face of science. The State government will be hard pressed to explain its decision to the top court, which will quite rightly demand much more than a routine clarification that the relaxations were accompanied by instructions for maintaining the COVID-19 protocol.

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