HC paves way for Army festival at Shivaji Park

The city will get to witness a rare treat between December 12 and 17, after the Bombay High Court yesterday cleared the way for the Indian Army Festival to be held at the Shivaji Park ground. The ‘Know your Army Mela’ is being organised in memory of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war — celebrated as Vijay Diwas — to encourage local youth to join the armed forces.

Shivaji Park
Bouncer: The bench consisting Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Nitin Jamdar allowed BMC to grant the army permission, but clarified that the cricket pitches in Shivaji Park should not be damaged. File/pic

The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Nitin Jamdar heard a notice of motion moved by the Municipal Corporation, to allow them to give the army permission for the festival at the ground.

Recently, the court had refused permission to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), while maintaining that the Shiv Sena could continue to hold its historic Dussera rally on the same ground. The decision had attracted Thackeray’s ire, and his public criticism of the decision resulted in contempt of court proceedings being initiated against him.

The notice of motion states that army would require the ground between December 12 and 17, with the main programmes taking place on December 15 and 16.

The court had declared the area a silence zone in 2010, and anyone intent on using the ground for an event needed to approach the High Court for permission. However, the rule is relaxed for Maharashtra Din, Republic Day and Mahaparinirivan Din — besides for the Shiv Sena’s Dussera rally. Though the bench allowed the BMC to grant the army permission, it clarified that they could not cause any damage to the cricket pitches on the ground.

The army and the BMC would also have to clear the ground and restore to its original condition by December 20. “Ensure that the tanks do not damage the pitches,” was what Justice Shah said.

According to an affidavit filed by Assistant Municipal Commissioner (G-North) M S Vibhute, the army officials had approached the BMC for permission on May 25 this year. The affidavit also states that several high-ranking army officials would be in attendance.

Vibhute requested the court to grant the BMC permission to allow the army to use the park, given the ‘national significance’ of the event.

While asking the court’s permission, Vibhute’s affidavit stated, “Since the Indian Army will consume a considerable amount of time for preparation of the celebration in view of mobilisation of equipment, there is an urgency on their part.”

The programme is scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and will consist of an array of exiting exercises, from helicopter acrobatics to commandoes in action, besides several other events.

Event highlights
>> Combat freefall from rotary/fixed-wing aircraft
>> Fly-past by under slung commandos on helicopter
>> Display of dog/ motorcycle/band
>> Malkhamb display
>> Lazim demo
>> Helicopter acrobatics
>> Floor gymnastics display
>> Equestrian display
>> Cycle polo demo match 

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