New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave its nod to a 6-day long grand cultural gala at Mumbai’s Chowpaty Beach on February 13 onwards as part of the “Make in India” function by the Maharashtra government to promote the city as the country’s financial capital during an investors’ congregation for promoting the manufacturing potentials.
Reversing the refusal by the Bombay High Court last Thursday, the Bench of Justice M Y Eqbal and Arun Mishra granted permission after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Court that the function will be a matter of country’s pride showcasing India and its culture when delegates from 56 countries will be in the city.
The main function to be held either on February 13, a Saturday, or February 14 would be also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and at last three prime ministers of other countries, Rohatgi submitted.
Pointing out that the High Court had disallowed the function since it would disrupt traffic and public life on the most busy city road, the Attorney General said if that reason is correct then why allow the Republic Day parade at the India Gate in Delhi.
The High Court had gone by the rules framed a high-power committee it had appointed on use of the beach area that forbid use for any public or political gathering or similar purposes other than on the occasions of the religious gatherings or Ram Leela, Krishna Leela and Ganesh Visarjan. The Maharashtra Government had not challenged these rules nor sought their modification.
In the Apex Court, the counsel for the committee sought to oppose any permission on the ground that it would impact movement of the traffic and pleaded that the function should be held under the Court’s gaze if permitted. The Court, however, ignored his plea after the Attorney General said the function was being organised jointly by the Maharashtra Government and the Centre and both will take care of everything. He also assured the court that the beach area would be open to public at all times except for four hours on February 13 or 14 when some restrictions would be necessary during visit of Modi and other countries’ prime ministers.
It is going to be basically a Maharashtra Government event to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The State Government wanted to use the beach from February 1 to build the stage and set up other facilities. It selected the beach as an apt location to showcase the island city as the country’s financial capital better since the cultural programmes would be admired better with the sea and busy marine drive as the background.
The beach had been used earlier only once in 2010 with the High Court’s permission to celebrate the golden jubilee of Maharashtra state’s formation, but the High Court refused to entertain it as a precedent, stating that just presence of foreign dignitaries and political leaders cannot be equated with the state’s golden jubilee function.