AFTER KOLKATA Police refused permission, the Calcutta High Court on Friday allowed the RSS to hold a function, to be attended by its chief Mohan Bhagwat, at the Brigade Parade Ground on Saturday, but with certain conditions. It also issued suo motu contempt notice against Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for not complying with its earlier order with regard to the RSS’ application for permission to hold the event.
Justice Joymalyo Bagchi said the programme, scheduled to be held from 2 pm to 6 pm on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, can be held at the Brigade Parade Ground, subject to restrictions, including a cap of 4,000 on the number of attendees. He also directed that the organising secretary of the Kolkata Mahanagar unit of RSS would have to submit an affidavit before the court that no person without proper registration and identity card be allowed to attend the programme, where drills and other activities would be held. The organisers would have to give an undertaking to the court and Kolkata Police that it will bear cost of any unruly behaviour by any person related to the function.
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The court said the police might remove any person who was not an invitee, and would also have to ensure adequate deployment of force to ensure maintenance of law and order. Justice Bagchi directed that the organisers would have to furnish the names of all attendees to the court and the police.
Justice Bagchi, on January 11, had directed the commissioner of police (CP) to consider RSS’ application for permission to hold the function at Bhukailash Park or at Brigade Parade Ground within 24 hours and communicate the decision to the organisers. The decision not to allow the programme on January 14 was, however, communicated by a joint commissioner of police.
Expressing his displeasure, Justice Bagchi said that the rules of business of state do not override or abrogate the court’s order. Observing that the act was an example of “bureaucratic insolence”, Justice Bagchi said that the CP was fully aware of the order passed by the court, but had failed to carry it out. Holding that it was a wilful and deliberate act, he suo motu issued contempt notice against the commissioner, who was asked to explain his conduct within two weeks.
The police had rejected the RSS’ plea to hold the programme twice — first at Bhukailash Park near Khidderpore, and later at Brigade Parade Ground. While rejecting the second plea, the police had asked the RSS to fix a new date for the event. The petitioners, while challenging this, submitted before the court that Makar Sankranti is an annual event and is organised on a specific date, and cannot be postponed as suggested by Advocate General Jayanta Mitra. The petitioners’ counsel, Anindya Mitra, submitted that the organisers had already taken permission from the Army, which is the custodian of the Maidan area where the Brigade Parade Ground is located.
The BJP, while hailing the court order, claimed that democracy has prevailed over “gundacracy” of the ruling Trinamool Congress. “Democracy has prevailed over gundacracy of TMC. In West Bengal if you want to hold a rally you have to go to the court and not to the state administration as TMC will not give permission for the programme… They feel it is only their right to hold rallies and meetings in Bengal or Kolkata. But BJP, RSS workers are made of different material and they can’t stop us from raising our voice,” BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said.