The Bombay high court has granted the Shiv Sena permission to hold what may perhaps be the party’s last Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park. The court’s assent comes with several riders, including a firm suggestion to consider alternate venues from next year.
The court has allowed the party to go ahead with the rally on October 24 provided it uses a distributive sound system, i.e. a number of small speakers instead of few large speakers, and also puts sound barriers around the ground. The Sena will also have to keep the noise below the 60-dB mark, and will have to ensure that the cricket pitches and permanent sporting facilities at the ground are not damaged.
In May 2010, the HC had declared that Shivaji Park falls within the silence zone and restrained the BMC from permitting any public meeting at the ground without its permission. The order was in response to a public interest litigation filed by Wecom Trust, a non-government organisation.
This year, Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab moved court seeking permission to hold the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park. His counsel VA Thorat pointed out that the Sena rally was being held at Shivaji Park every Dussehra for more than 40 years, and therefore, has acquired great political and religious importance. The counsel told HC that the MMRDA ground at Bandra-Kurla Complex was already booked for some other function, and hence, sought permission for a rally at Shivaji Park. To this, the HC asked the party to look for an alternate venue for next year’s rally.
Counsel for Wecom Trust argued that the Sena had flouted noise pollution norms last year, which amounted to contempt of court. To this, the Sena argued that Mumbai is a noisy city and submitted that as per a survey it conducted, the mean noise level at a few crowded places in the city on a working day was 73 dB.
The counsel for Awaaz Foundation, which intervened in Wecom Trust’s PIL, pointed out that the court has restrained authorities from permitting public meetings in residential area unless organisers use a distributed sound system. The HC then laid this down as precondition for going ahead with the rally.
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said he “will celebrate the occasion with enthusiasm”.