The Shiv Sena seems to have found an unlikely ally in home minister RR Patil.
A day after the Mumbai police denied permission for the use of loudspeakers for Sena’s Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, Patil said the state government would do everything to ensure the Sena is allowed to hold the rally on the ground.
“Sena’s Dussehra rally is a long-kept tradition and we will help in all possible ways to see to it that the rally is held at Shivaji Park,’’ said Patil.
The Sena’s four-decade-old tradition of holding its annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park is in jeopardy this year due to the high court’s judgment in May declaring this playground as a silence zone. The Dussehra rally is the Sena’s annual attempt to reach out to its traditional voters and make its stand on various issues public.
The Centre’s Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules, 2000, defines an area located within 100 meters of a court, hospital, religious structure or educational institution as a silence zone. The use of loudspeakers is banned in silence zones. Patil admitted that silence zone norms were part of Centre’s law and there were limitations to what the state could do to change them. “We will write to the Centre to see if exceptions can be made for political rallies like this,’’ he said.
The state’s environment department has drafted a proposal for relaxing silence zone norms and defining them more practically but the proposal is pending with the law and judiciary department.
The Delhi government had amended silence zone norms through a similar notification in 2008.
The proposal states that silence zone norms should apply to only registered religious institutions. It further states that areas around schools and courts should be exempt from these restrictions during weekends, holidays and after working hours. The draft also defines that only certain schools, depending on the number of students, and hospitals, depending on number of beds, should be considered silence zones.
The law and judiciary department will seek the Bombay High Court’s concurrence on the proposal to relax these norms before issuing a state level notification. “Unless the silence zone norms are relaxed, the Dussehra rally will prove a huge challenge for the police,” a senior bureaucrat said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“Not just the Sena rally, but also functions like the Durga Puja held at Shivaji Park and the Kala Ghoda festival will be in jeopardy now after the high court ruling.’’