The city unit of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) approached the Bombay high court on Thursday, contending that the earlier orders of the court, putting restrictions on celebrating religious festivals on roads, were affecting its ‘right to profess religion.’
The court’s orders had come while hearing a PIL filed by a Thane resident Dr Bedekar, who had highlighted the flouting of rules and regulations while organising festivals such as Ganeshotsav, Navratri and Dahi Handi.
The Mumbai unit of the BJP has sought to intervene in the PIL proceeding, to raise the grievances of about 400 mandals that organise various religious festivals in the city.
In his plea, Sunil Rane, general secretary of the Mumbai BJP, insisted that the sentiments of the people and their strong sense of belonging to a particular religion must be respected.
Claiming that the BJP was the world’s largest party in terms of primary membership, Rane stated in his plea that there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year, but because of poverty, people are not able to celebrate even the remaining 30-40 festivals.
People now celebrate only eight to 10 festivals annually, his plea says.
The BJP’s counsel, advocate Girish Kulkarni, said the party was not claiming that roads and footpaths should be allowed to be obstructed for celebrating religious festivals. He also accepted that the noise pollution rules should be adhered to strictly, and assured the court to assist it in ensuring the rules are followed by everyone, including the state government.
Senior advocate SM Gorwadkar, who represents the petitioner, pointed out that the court’s earlier orders about setting up a mechanism to deal with noise pollution had not been complied with, to which the judges expressed utter displeasure.
“The first meeting for considering the order was held on June 26, two months after the order was passed,” said the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Revati Mohite-Dere. “This is shocking.”
The judges also noted that there is confusion amongst the highest officers in the state administration about the competent authorities to be appointed under the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000.
“If there is so much of confusion at the highest level of the government, it shows there is no implementation of the rules,” the judges said.