The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused relief to a Thane-based NGO that had challenged the police decision to not allow them to have All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president (AIMIM) and MP Asaduddin Owaisi as one of the speakers at their function on February 8.
A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya was hearing a petition filed by My Mumbra Foundation president Abdul Rauf Lala. His lawyer Nazima Malik contended that the programme was being organised for “peace” and “harmony” among Muslims as well as Hindu youths and had seven other speakers from both the communities, besides Owaisi.
Advocate General (AG) Darius Khambatta, however, told the court that keeping in mind Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) that gives the police power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger, the state had refused permission to Owaisi. He said under the said section, police could act proactively to avoid an unwanted situation.
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Khambatta also told the court that the police were not against the function being held, but against having Owaisi as one of the speakers.
Disagreeing with the AG’s submission, Malik told the court that the state was acting under “political pressure”.
In a letter dated January 29 to Owaisi, Thane Police Commissioner K P Raghuvanshi wrote, “It is learnt that the lecture to be given by you is provocative and will create communal problems in Mumbra and also in the area of Thane commissionerate.”
“Therefore, I, in exercise of Section 144 CrPc, hereby order that you are banned to enter Thane on February 8, 2014,” he stated in the letter. A copy of the letter was produced before the court by the petitioner’s lawyer.
“Administration works on assessment. Even a peaceful mob turns hostile and things go haywire,” said Justice Patil, while refusing permission to the organisers. The bench also told the petitioner’s lawyer that Owaisi could challenge the Section 144 order as an affected party.
Offering liberty to the petitioner, the court said they could file a fresh application before the state authorities seeking permission to organise the programme.