Bombay HC disallows Congress to hold party function at Shivaji Park
"We are not inclined to allow the petitioner to hold the celebrations as there has been violation of rules by a political party and others in the past and also damage to the ground," said Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R Y Ganoo.
Earlier, another bench had allowed Shiv Sena to hold Dussehra rally at the same ground subject with certain conditions.
However, a committee appointed by the court to monitor noise pollution control rules submitted a report saying Sena followers had committed violations.
The bench, while rejecting the petition filed by Congress, said the conditions imposed by the court to control noise pollution at Shivaji Park, a silence zone, were violated more often by the organisers and hence such applications must be discouraged. The bench also said that in the past certain exceptions had been made and parties were allowed to hold functions at Shivaji Park on important occasions such as the Army Day, Republic Day and Dr B R Ambedkar's Jayanti. However, these orders were passed in specific instances.
The bench also noted that the High Court had allowed Shiv Sena to hold the annual Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park last month. However, this can hardly be termed as a precedent.
The committee set up to monitor noise pollution rules also filed an affidavit saying Shiv Sena had breached the conditions imposed on the party to hold its annual Dussehra rally and caused damage to the cricket pitch on the ground.
Counsel for Congress, Mukesh Vashi, submitted they had given an undertaking to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that they would not violate noise pollution rules and also protect the cricket pitch by covering it with a carpet.
The party had also assured that only low volume loud speakers would be used and it would take extra care to protect the ground, he said. However, the BMC rejected their application on July 15 this year.
Congress argued all national leaders and several VIPs from all over the country would attend the function. The party also said that in view of paucity of time, it was even prepared to shift the date from December 28 this year to some other date in January 2014 to hold the function.
The Congress lawyer said there was only one more ground belonging to the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority at suburban Bandra which was available but its rates were high and the party cannot afford it.
The lawyer further said this was for the first time the party was approaching the Bombay High Court for permission to hold a function at Shivaji Park after the 2010 High Court order imposing conditions on organisers.
Earlier, it had held functions in 2003 and 2006. The High Court had passed orders in 2010 declaring Shivaji Park a silence zone, on a PIL filed by WeCom Trust, an NGO alleging noise pollution in Shivaji Park. In view of these orders, any one planning to hold function at Shivaji Park has to obtain permission from the High Court.