SC dismisses plea to allow warkaris for Pandharpur pilgrimage

The petition said the Maharashtra government had arbitrarily denied the permission of conducting an age-old practice of wari and that the denial of permission to millions of warkaris and 250-plus registered palkhis violated the fundamental rights of the warkaris.

EVEN AS the “padukas” of Sant Tukaram Maharaj left for Pandhurpur from Dehu by two State Transport buses on Monday morning, the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition, challenging the state government’s decision to deny permission to complete the “wari” or annual pilgrimage on foot to Lord Vithal temple in Pandharpur, a distance of 250km.

Around 8.30 am on Monday, the buses carrying the “padukas” left for Pandharpur for the Ashadhi Ekadashi yatra. About 40 warkaris, 20 each in a bus, accompanied the “padukas”. The pair of buses were decked up with flowers and were given police protection.

Meanwhile, a bench of the Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, declined to entertain the plea moved on the issue by Sant Namdev Maharaj Sansthan, the Bar and Bench reported.

The petition challenged the Maharashtra government’s decision to allow only 10 palkhis to perform the pilgrimage to Pandharpur in the wake of the emergence of the Delta-Plus variant of Covid-19.

The petition said the Maharashtra government had arbitrarily denied the permission of conducting an age-old practice of wari and that the denial of permission to millions of warkaris and 250-plus registered palkhis violated the fundamental rights of the warkaris.

The NGO added that last year the warkaris did not press for the pilgrimage but this year it should be allowed. The plea had urged the apex court to allow all warkaris to undertake the pilgrimage on foot from their homes till Lord Vithal temple and also to direct the state to arrange interstate bus services to transport warkaris.

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