Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray has clarified his stand regarding alleged ‘contemptuous’ statements made by him earlier this week. Speaking to the media, he maintained that newspapers had misquoted large parts of what he said, and urged the court to read his statement in context. “Till today, I have not addressed a press conference in English. Some reporters deliberately published my statements after making subtle changes to show me in poor light,” he stated.
Thackeray had objected to the Bombay High Court’s decision to allow the Shiv Sena to carry out a Dussehra rally in the city while disallowing the MNS for the same. “The judgment of the Hon’ble High Court is wrong. The order is incorrect in law. It violates the principles of equality. I say that my criticism is therefore, a legitimate criticism of what I believe is a legally incorrect order. As a citizen, I am entitled to expect equal application of the principles of law to my petition, which were applied to the earlier petition by the Shiv Sena,” he said.
Thackeray was referring to being quoted in some sections of the media as saying, “In a democracy, people are the ultimate authority. As a citizen, am I not authorised to ask questions? Are you going to say no to Sena’s Dussehra rally this year? If a rule is applied to one, then the same should be applied for all.” He, however, denied having said many of the other quotes attributed to him, claiming it was purely the opinion of the concerned journal or its reporter. He specifically denied having called Chief Justice Mohit Shah and the High Court ‘biased’.
He also clarified his stance on the allegation that he had said the court was only listening to the government. “I said that the government pleader, appearing against the Shiv Sena in the petition, had told the court that permission could be granted to hold a public meeting, but when my petition was before the court, the pleader argued that permission should not be granted. The court should not have listened to the government pleader and should have acted independently. According to me, my observation is a factual comment and cannot amount to contempt.” The court had earlier issued the contempt notice to Thackeray on June 17 on the basis of a petition by lawyer Ejaz Naqvi. The case is likely to be heard next on Monday.