High Court allows Shiv Sena to hold Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed Shiv Sena to hold its annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai on October 22 subject to certain conditions.

The conditions — which the saffron party has to abide by this year — had been imposed by the high court in the past. These pertain to adherence to noise pollution rules and restoration of the ground to its original position after the rally.

“We have allowed Shiv Sena to hold the rally in the past and there is no reason why we should not allow the party to organise it this year…However, the party would have to abide by the conditions imposed by the HC earlier,” said Justices V M Kanade and Anuja Prabhudessai, deciding on separate applications moved by the BJP-led Maharashtra government and Shiv Sena. The applications were opposed by Wecom Trust and Awaz Foundation. Both NGOs said the noise pollution rules debar use of loud speakers in a silence zone.

“A political party is for the benefit of citizens and therefore it should ensure that they [citizens] are not troubled. We request Shiv Sena to observe the noise pollution rules and other conditions,” the bench observed.

The party has been facing opposition from certain quarters in organising the event at Shivaji Park in the past two years as the high court had declared it as a ‘silence zone’. Sena has been organising its annual rally on Dussehra every year since its inception to announce its policies and it has become a prestige issue for the party to hold the event every year at the same place.

On May 5, 2010, the high court, hearing a petition filed by WeCom Trust, had declared Shivaji Park ground as a silence zone and made it compusory for organisers to seek its permission to hold a rally or function there.

The high court had also declared in 2010 that Shivaji Park would not be used for non-sports activities, except with its orders. Since then, every organisation moves the HC for permission.

Advocate General Srihari Aney said the government had in the recent past come out with a notification allowing organisers to hold functions of public importance at Shivaji Park.

Sena counsel V A Thorat said the party would abide by all the conditions imposed by the high court. However, counsel for WeCom, Virag Tulzapurkar objected to the use of loud speakers at Shivaji Park, which had been declared a silence zone.

He said every year WeCom had lodged police complaint about the noise violations. Sign boards had been put up at Shivaji Park warning that it was a silence zone and still noise pollution rules were  violated blatantly, he added.

The court, while granting permission for the rally, has kept the petition filed by WeCom Trust for final hearing on November 23.

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