Thursday, January 9, 2014

High Court red flags Iskcon’s plan to hold rath yatra on Shivaji Park

Mumbai: Holding that the city’s open public spaces should be allowed to be used only for their designated purpose, the Bombay High Court has refused to grant permission to International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) to hold their annual Jagannath Rath Yatra at Shivaji Park.
Justice Gautam Patel was hearing an application filed by a Iskcon member seeking direction to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to permit them to hold the yatra on January 4 at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai.
The application was filed after the civic body refused permission on the basis of a May 2010 order of the high court declaring Shivaji Park as silence zone.
“The Shivaji Park area is widely used by sportspersons and children for sports and recreation. Allowing the function would mean rendering it inaccessible not only for the day in question but also for some days before and after. To my mind, the city’s public open spaces such as Shivaji Park should be allowed to be used only for their designated purposes, and the exceptions, if any, should be few,” Justice Patel said in the recent order.
The court observed that other functions held in the park like Republic Day and Maharashtra Day are both “secular and state-organised functions”.
“Court must always test where the greater public interest lies. In the case of Shivaji Park ground, I find it difficult to accept the proposition that the public interest lies with groups such as the petitioners,” Justice Patel said.
According to the petitioner, over 1 lakh people are likely to attend the yatra and that even last year the high court had granted them permission.
The high court, however, refused to accept this argument.

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