Navratri promises to be a stress-free affair for housing societies across the city this year. Reason: The state has repealed the police’s powers to grant permission to host such events or hire orchestras in the society. The nine-day festival begins on October 1.
The only police permission required is for the use of loud speakers under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. These rules require maintaining ambient noise levels and switching off the loudspeakers by 10pm.
In the past, housing societies had to apply for permission (NOC) for everything — from orchestras to dancing — during Navratri.
In 1961, the state government, through a notification issued under Section 33 (1) of the Bombay Police Act, 1951, (now The Maharashtra Police Act), had made it mandatory for housing societies to obtain ‘premises and performance’ licences from the police while organising functions on the open premises of the society. However, through another notification in March this year, the government (promulgated through the Mumbai police commissioner) has withdrawn these powers, thus paving the way for minimum police intervention in celebrations within housing societies. The relaxation not only extends to Garba or orchestra alone, but for organising other functions and marriage receptions on the society premises as well.
Police commissioner Dattatreya Padsalgikar told HT that the purpose of the amendment was to let citizens celebrate without any hassles from the police. “These are small-scale events meant for residents of housing societies only. There is no commercial interest attached to them. So, the need for police permission should not arise at all,” Padsalgikar said and added, “However, they have still got to get permission if they want to play loudspeakers.”
The notification has made it clear that for performances in open public places and public premises (like big-ticket Garba mandals at various public grounds across the city), the organisers will have to get the NOC from the local police as well as the traffic police.
“These are large public gatherings where police personnel are needed to maintain law and order and regulate traffic. Also, the purpose of such big events is to make money by selling tickets and getting sponsors,” a senior Mumbai police officer said, while explaining the need for approval for performances at open places.
According to the notification, schools and colleges have also been exempted from obtaining police NOCs during their in-house festivals. The same goes for get-togethers, functions and conferences in star-category hotels too, the notification says.