The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) will now face the music over its ear-splitting Gudi Padwa rally held at Shivaji Park on April 8. The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the police and the BMC to take strict action against the MNS as well as its leader and rally organiser, Nitin Sardesai, for violating provisions of Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, and Environment Protection Act, 1986, during the rally.
The court also issued a contempt notice against the organisers, seeking an explanation on why the party had failed to abide by its undertaking in court ahead of the rally. The MNS had assured the court that it would not breach the sound limit during its big-ticket event.
The state told the court that it had issued a show-cause notice to the party and Sardesai, but it hadn’t received a reply from either. “Why has no criminal action been taken against the organisers? Why has only a notice been issued to them?” a bench of justices Abhay Oka and justice Prakash Naik questioned state pleaders Purnima Kantharia and Hiten Vinegaonkar.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Wecom Trust, comprising residents of Shivaji Park, which had submitted a panchnama report stating that the sound levels at the time of MNS leader Raj Thackeray’s speech had touched an alarming 114.56 dB. Shivaji Park is a silence zone, with a sound limit of 50 dB.
Not our fault: MNS
In MNS’ defence, senior counsel and party representative VA Thorat told the court that a day before Thackeray’s rally, the noise level near Shivaji Park was around 86.5 decibels, and even hours before the rally, at 2 pm, the level was around 60 decibels. He maintained that during the course of the rally, the average decibel level hovered around 60.
Justice Oka, though, would have none of it. “You accepted the condition [on sound levels] before holding the rally and now, you are pointing out that the increase in noise levels was due to external factors and not the rally itself,” he said.
Kantharia told the bench that a report of the DCP states that the sound levels peaked at 7.30 pm — touching 101.8 decibels — when dhols announcing Thackeray’s arrival were played.
The court kept the matter aside for April 29, and told the BMC and the police to submit a report on the action taken against the MNS and its rally organisers.