Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed the Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) to hold certain visual arts events and other performances at Cross Maidan in South Mumbai as part of its annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival which is from January 20 to January 28 with conditions.
The court has also clarified that henceforth the authorities will directly grant such permission to KGA, with strict insistence and compliance of condition, and it does not need to approach the high court.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata passed the order while hearing an application filed by the KGA seeking direction to the BMC and authorities to grant it permission to hold certain performances at the Cross Maidan at Churchgate.
The application was filed in connection to a petition filed by the Organisation for Verdant Ambience and Land (OVAL), a public trust, in 2018, challenging the commercial use of the ground. It had challenged a November 6, 2017 government resolution (GR) that transferred the authority of maintaining Cross Maidan from the Mumbai city district collector to the BMC.
The bench has said that the implementation of the order is subject to an undertaking to be submitted by KGA, similar to the one it had given in February 2018.
No refreshment and commercial stalls
Also, the trust is restrained from putting up any refreshment and commercial stalls at Cross Maidan and no part of Maidan shall be used for any commercial activity and events shall be open to the public without any entry fee.
The court has emphasised that if any portion of the Cross Maidan public garden is used during the festival, the KGA will have to restore it as per its original condition, at its own costs.
The judges refused to get onto the license fee issue saying that it was open to KGA to make an application for reduction or waiver in license fees; and the authority can consider it without any requirement of specific order from HC.
From next year onwards, the HC has said that the authorities may directly grant permission to KGA, but insist on strict compliance with conditions laid down by the HC in earlier orders and those imposed by the collector.
SU Kamdar, counsel for the BMC, infomed the court that several applicants have sought permission to hold events at the Cross Maidan.
The bench has clarified that if a person or an entity, other than KGA, seeks permission for use of any part of Cross Maidan, a separate application will have to be made before the High Court by the party concerned. It noted that the authorities, including the Collector of Mumbai city district, were earlier restrained from allotting the Cross Maidan to any third party without HC’s prior approval since it was supposed to be reserved for a playground as per the Development Plan (DP).
In the case of KGA, the bench noted that annually it has been granted permission for the Art Festival, hence the same was not required to be done every year.
"We are not permitting the slightest deviation from conditions laid down. Undoubtedly, if anyone seeks relaxation of those conditions or deviations or if an applicant is someone else, application to be made to this court,” the court underlined.
The HC has kept OVAL’s petition for final hearing and disposal in February.