Supreme Court on Thursday disallowing the Lord Jagannath rath yatra for this year said ‘Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allowed the rath yatra’.

The remarks came from the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde while hearing a petition seeking to defer the rath yatra in Odisha’s Puri which is scheduled to start on June 23.

The apex court further said that such gatherings can’t take place at a time of the pandemic. It referred to the advice by health professional to maintain social distancing as the deadly virus can spread via respiratory droplets and surface contact.

The court said it cannot allow the rath yatra this year “in the interest of public health and safety of citizens”.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by the Odisha Vikas Parishad saying that the annual rath yatra in Odisha will draw some 10 lakh people and the religious event goes on for 10-12 days. It maintained that the rath yatra amid the COVID-19 pandemic “will be an invitation to infect lakhs of devotees.”

The non-profit organization was represented by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

The Chief Justice said that “this is a serious matter.” Even if there are only 10,000 people (in the event), it is also a serious thing,” he said.

The centre had been cautious in allowing religious places to remain open during the initial stages of the lockdown that was first enforced in late March, when it became apparent that flattening the curve of rising coronavirus cases was more important than any other activity.