J&K High Court has asked Amarnath Shrine Board to take all decisions on Amarnath yatra in keeping with an order of the Supreme Court passed on a plea raised before it with regard to Yatra.
A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjay Dhar while disposing of a petition said: "Such considered view shall ensure compliance of all healthcare
protocols, Standard Operating Protocols notified by the Central Government as well as by the Union Territory of Jammu Kashmir guided by the principles laid down by the Supreme Court of India".
In its order, the apex court had held that the right to health of every person has to be placed at the highest pedestal to address the concerns of the health of the security personnel, healthcare personnel, priests, Yatris and of officials who would be involved in the arrangements and conduct of the Yatra as also the residents of the UT of J&K."
"In the decision making, the Board shall ensure consideration of the welfare and support of all persons, especially the members of the communities who provide mules and horses and services on the Yatra".
Consideration, the court said, would also need to be accorded to the welfare of the animals -mules, horses, ponies, etc. involved in the Yatra.
Amicus Curiae Monika Kohli submitted before the court an order dated 22 April, 2020 passed by Amarnath Shrine Board cancelling the Yatra which was subsequently recalled.
"It appears that the Yatra was cancelled because there were 77 hot spots/ red zones in Kashmir along with the route through which the yatra passes," the court said.
The Amicus further submitted that as per the newspaper reports, langars, camp establishments, medical facilities had not been set up and even snow clearance was not complete.
The court pointed out that the respondents have in their status report disclosed that the camping facilities, which were being used for accommodating the yatris earlier especially at the entry point, are being used as quarantine centres.
"So clearly, the respondents do not have any residential facilities for the yatris and certainly no facilities for quarantining the yatris who have mandatorily to be quarantined in terms of disclosure made in status report," the court said.
"The status report on record shows that no significant medical facilities are available in District Anantnag at any point of time. Certainly, the District does not have the capacity to deal with the added pressures on account of the deluge of yatris from different parts of the country."
"Even if adequate facilities could be created, the Government has expressed the huge challenge posed for isolation of the suspected COVID-19 patients as well as those found infected on the route of Yatra. Not only isolation facilities but also diagnostic facilities would be required to be set up all along the route," the court said.
The court held that both Kohli and the petitioner Sachin Sharma submitted that permitting the Yatra, given the pandemic situation, the physical condition of the route and in the circumstances brought out in the Status Report as well as the enclosed minutes, would lead to devastating consequences.
The court asked respondents to ensure that copies of this application, the Status Report dated 10 July, its order along with all other relevant material are immediately placed before the Amarnath Shrine Board for its consideration.