The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival will proceed as scheduled, with the Bombay high court giving the go-ahead for it, and asking why a petition opposing the 16-year-old festival had come just a few days before it begins.
A Kala Ghoda resident, Berges Malu, had moved court against the festival, citing security concerns, inconvenience to residents and violation of anti-noise pollution norms. He had asked that permission for the festival be withdrawn, or adequate security measures and other facilities be provided.
“We do not propose to restrain the organisers from holding the function,” said a division bench of Justices VM Kanade and GS Kulkarni. “It is not disputed that this festival has been a popular event in the city… The festival is also recognised as an international event and in our view, in order to ensure that no untoward incident takes place in future we further propose to lay down guidelines.”
The organisers submitted an undertaking that there would be no dance or music performances on Rampart Row, which falls within a silence zone. A few dance performances scheduled there will be moved to another location.
“In any event, the music and dance performances are held at Cross Maidan and the Asiatic library steps and not at Rampart Row,” said Maneck Davar, chairperson of the Kala Ghoda Association.
At the beginning of the hearing, the bench asked why the petition was not filed earlier. “You could’ve come six months ago, why come at the last stage?” the bench asked.
Counsel for the petitioner, Raju Subramanian, said that they were not against the festival, but were praying for safeguards, proper arrangements and adherence to norms. “Let a committee make a report on the festival. No one has a record of the noise levels,” he said.
The court granted this prayer, directing the formation of a fivemember committee to monitor the festival and submit a report on compliance, within four weeks of the festival concluding.
Before passing the order, the court said in a lighter vein, “We are festival loving people”, before going on to enumerate other city festivals.
The matter will next be heard on March 3, once the committee submits its report.