Bombay High Court asks civic bodies to take secular stand in dealing with illegal pandals

PTIUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 02:21 AM IST
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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today said celebration of any religious festival should be within legal boundaries and asked civic bodies to take a “secular stand” while initiating action against illegal pandals and those flouting noise pollution norms.

A bench of justices A S Oka and A K Menon made the observation when it was told by the advocate appearing for Thane Municipal Corporation that orders passed by the high court in the past directing the corporations to demolish pandals erected illegally were being seen as putting a stop to festivals.

“The court’s orders and the sudden action taken by a corporation may create a law and order situation. It is also seen as stopping people from celebrating the festivals,” advocate Ram Apte said.

To this, Justice Oka said, “Who is stopping celebration of festivals? We never stopped them…that is never our intention. We are only saying the festivals be celebrated in accordance with law.”

“The corporations are blindly allowing pandals to be erected illegally and without requisite permissions. You (corporations) should take a secular stand while dealing with such matters. You cannot go by public sentiments,” he said.

The court said that if the civic body feels there would be a law and order situation during demolition of the illegal pandals, it can take the help of police.

The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions on strict implementation of noise pollution rules and regulations and action against illegal pandals erected during public speeches and festivals.

Taking a stern view of the “inaction” against the illegal pandals set up during Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri, the high court had last week issued show cause notices to the commissioners civic bodies of Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan Dombivli, asking them to explain why contempt action should not be initiated against them.

The court will hear the matter further on November 30.

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