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Saturday, February 04, 2012
By Philip Varghese

Threatens to have MNS rally on streets 

In what can be termed as a ‘blow’ to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to grant permission to the party to hold its rally at the Shivaji Park on February 13. However, Thackeray, while talking to media after the order said that he would instead hold the rally on the streets (see box). 

On January 4, the civic body had rejected an MNS request for a rally by party boss Raj Thackeray, stating that it would lead to violation of the Noise Pollution Act. Accordingly, the head of the Dadar region of MNS, Sandeep Deshpande approached the Bombay High Court.   

Following public interest litigation (PIL) by NGO Wecom Trust, the HC had earlier declared the Shivaji Park as a silence zone in May 2010. The court however permitted the BMC to allow events to be held there as and when it deems fit. Currently, silence zones include courts, hospitals and educational institutions. Loud noise and fire crackers are prohibited around 100 metres from the silence zones.     
However, while arguing in court on Friday, additional government pleader P. G. Lad told the court that no such permission should be given to any political party
as the elections are slated for February 16. “The problem associated with granting permission to any political party is that their fans or supporters do not come to ground silently. They, in fact, come shouting slogans and speakers are used for it. This is against the rule prevalent at the Shivaji Park area which is declared as ‘Silence Zone’,” Lad told the court.

The counsel for the BMC, taking objection to granting permission for rally, told the court that the permissions given earlier to any organisation were based on cultural and religious point of view only and that permissions for such rallies before the election cannot be granted.

After hearing both sides, the division bench comprising of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice R. V. More, while refusing to grant permission to the MNS, observed that if permission was granted to one party, then we would not be able to deny permission to any other party who wishes to have rally there.

‘No problem, we will have rally on streets.’
Hours after the court refused to grant this permission to MNS, the Chief of the party, Raj Thackeray while talking to the media said that he would now hold the rally on streets. “During the elections, permission should be granted for rallies at the ground. It is a part of the democracy. If so many restrictions are laid down, what is the point of holding elections? What was the problem in allowing us to hold rally for a day? One party is granted permission, while another is denied.

State government says it has no objection to Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park. When I ask for permission, government objects. It is not only about me. Anybody who needs the ground for a public meeting should get it.”

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