The Shiv Sena on Friday got permission to hold the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park on Thursday.
A division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi of the Bombay high court (HC) said as permission has been granted for the rally for all these years, there is no reason why it should not be granted now. The court was hearing a plea filed by Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab, which was supported by the state and civic body.
Advocate general Shreehari Aney said an order passed by the HC in 2010 states Shivaji Park can be used for three days -- Independence Day, Republic Day and Ambedkar Jayanti. But the state had, in December 2014, amended the Maharashtra Region Town Planning Act, which increased the number of days to use a playground for ‘non-sporting’ purposes to 45 days from 30. For the new rule to come into effect, a notification has to be issued two months before the beginning of the New Year. Aney said this could not be done as the government was sworn in October 2014, and did not have the time to do so.
Aney said it is an annual function being organised for the past 43 years and merely because it is conducted by a political party, it does not become a political rally. He told the court that the money for the event -- Rs38 lakh for a day, with Rs27 lakh as deposit – is not taken from the public.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare, representing the BMC, said they are in support of the application, adding the rally could not be held last year owing to the code of conduct for elections. He said noise pollution and other concerns would be taken care of.
Parab’s lawyer, senior counsel VA Thorat, said Dussehra is also the day of Durga immersion, and so the noise levels are high, but the organisers use loudspeakers that keep the volume in check.
Senior counsel Virag Tulzapurkar, appearing for a residents’ trust, Wecom, and NGO Awaaz Foundation said Shivaji Park is a silent zone and no permission for loudspeakers should be granted for the rally. A local corporator from MNS, too, opposed the granting of permission.