Uddhav Thackeray gets court nod for rally at Shivaji Park

Updated on Sep 24, 2022 06:53 AM IST

Thackeray, whose faction was locked in a battle for the venue with the faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde, welcomed the order, saying his party’s faith in the judiciary stood vindicated. The Shinde faction said it may consider moving the Supreme Court against the high court order next week.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray addresses party's Gatpramukh rally, at Nesco Complex, in Mumbai on Wednesday. (ANI)
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray addresses party's Gatpramukh rally, at Nesco Complex, in Mumbai on Wednesday. (ANI)
ByK A Y Dodhiya, Hindustan Times, Mumbai

The Bombay high court on Friday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to grant permission to Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena to hold the annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park here on October 5.

Thackeray, whose faction was locked in a battle for the venue with the faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde, welcomed the order, saying his party’s faith in the judiciary stood vindicated. The Shinde faction said it may consider moving the Supreme Court against the high court order next week.

Earlier, both the factions, who are also embroiled in a legal battle claiming to be the real Sena, were denied permission for the event by the civic body following security concerns raised by Mumbai Police.

A division bench of R D Dhanuka and justice Kamal Khata was hearing a plea by Anil Desai, Sena leader of Uddhav faction, when it observed that the civic body’s decision to not grant permission to either groups was a “clear abuse of the process of law”.

The court brushed aside BMC’s concerns of a possible breach in law and order and directed the local police to provide adequate security arrangements and also film the entire event.

In the court’s view, the BMC’s decision was not bona fide (in good faith), the bench said. The petitioner has been granted permission to hold the Dussehra rally at the Shivaji Park in the past, it added.

The BMC order refusing permission merely on the ground that there was a second application (by Shinde faction) filed to hold the rally at the same place is a clear abuse of the process of law, it observed.

The court also rejected an intervention application of Mahim MLA Sada Sarvankar, a member of the Shinde faction, objecting to Sena’s plea for permission.

The civic body “misused its power on a flimsy ground”, the court remarked as it allowed the Thackeray faction to use the ground from October 2 to 6 while maintaining law and order.

“There shall be no hindrance caused to the police work,” it warned.

Welcoming the court order, Thackeray told reporters here: “Our faith in the judiciary stands vindicated. We never stopped holding the congregation at Vijayadashmi at Shivaji Park since the inception of the party, except during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. We are taking this tradition forward.”

Desai also hailed the court’s decision. Asked if the order was indicative of a change in the party’s fortunes, he said: “Let’s hope for the best, ultimately, the truth will always prevail.”

A political crisis erupted in the Sena on June 20 after Shinde and 39 MLAs launched a rebellion against then chief minister Thackeray. The rebellion forced Thackeray to resign on June 29, leading to a dramatic takeover by Shinde as the chief minister. Later, the Shinde faction proved majority on the floor of the House with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose leader Devendra Fadnavis took oath as deputy chief minister on June 30.

The Sena has been holding the rally at Shivaji Park on Dussehra every year since 1966. Amid a split in the party, the two factions were locked in a tussle over holding the event at the spot.

During the hearing, senior advocate Aspi Chinoy and advocate Joel Carlos, who represented the Thackeray faction, informed the court that the Sena has been holding the event at the spot since 1966.

Appearing for the BMC, senior advocate Milind Sathe tried to justify its September 21 decision to deny permission to the two factions.

Sathe referred to a September 21 report of Mumbai Police commissioner to the civic body, cautioning against a law and order situation, similar to the one witnessed between the two factions during Ganesh festival at Prabhadevi on September 11. Based on the report, a letter of refusal was issued to both factions, he said.

Sarvankar’s counsel and senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas also opposed the petition, alleging the petitioners had suppressed some vital facts about the dispute over the real Shiv Sena which was pending before the Supreme Court and Election Commission of India. He added that his August 30 application (to BMC) for holding the rally at the park was also valid as he too had applied on behalf of the Sena.

The Shinde faction said it may consider approaching the Supreme Court next week to seek permission to hold the event.

“The common Shiv Sainik is eager that the Shiv Sena’s Dussehra rally must be held at Shivteertha (Shivaji Park). So, even if we accept the decision given by the HC today, we will examine it and consider if we can appeal in the Supreme Court,” former MLC and spokesperson of Shinde camp, Kiran Pawaskar, said.

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