The Bombay High Court on Tuesday told the state government to come up with policy guidelines to regulate public morchas and rallies in the city. A division bench headed by justice VM Kanade was hearing a PIL filed by Nariman Point-Churchgate Citizen’s Association claiming that they were affected due to regular morchas in Azad Maidan. SC Naidu, the petitioner’s lawyer told the court that although all morchas and dharnas terminated at Azad Maidan after a high court order in 1997, the rallies start at different places in the city leading to heavy traffic jams and inconvenience to the public.
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The State government which was represented by advocate Abhay Patki submitted a committee report to the court after it convened a meeting with various officials, in which it has mentioned several measures such as proper parking facility, security and other basic amenities that it plans to provide to conduct peaceful morchas.
Kanade said, “We cannot ban morchas as they are inherent part of democracy but there should be strict guidelines and statutory regulations in place.”
The state government informed the court that the committee will draft guidelines after it takes suggestions from petitioners also. Kanade suggested organising rallies over the weekends and also pointed out that people have become too tolerant to the noise and chaos on roads and such morchas and ensuing traffic chaos is a matter of concern.
The matter has been posted for further hearing after four weeks when the petitioners have been asked to make a submission based on the State’s report.