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HC gives nod to Christmas Music festival on 15,000-sq mtr area at Girgaum Chowpatty

Passing an interim order allowing the music event on a 15,000- square metre area, the court said its decision should not be considered a precedent, adding that such applications for relaxations shall be considered in the future on the facts and on its own merits.

Seeking affidavits in reply from the respondent authorities to the review pleas, the bench posted further hearing to January 20.
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The Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed organisers of a Christmas Music Festival a larger space on Girgaum Chowpatty for the event. The court was hearing petitions by Prabhu Yeshu Janmotsav, a public charitable trust, and Indian Church Trustees, who urged allotment of a bigger area than the over 4000-sq metre space earlier allotted to them. The court was told that 25,000 people were expected to attend the event on December 11.

A division bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice S G Dige on November 29 passed interim order in review petitions seeking modification of June 21, 2018 order of the HC which permitted an area of 4,180 square metres to the organisers and sought larger area to the extent of 25,000 square metres at Chowpatty for the event.

Senior advocate Soli Cooper said that for the upcoming event, the petitioners require 25,000 square metre area as nearly 25,000 members from the community were expected to be in attendance. Senior advocate Anil Sakhare for the BMC said that the civic body had pointed out various alleged breaches committed by the petitioners in the December 2019 event.

Advocate Rajan Jaykar, member of the court-appointed monitoring committee composed of environmentalists and experts, said that a large portion of Girgaum Chowpatty would be completely blocked by the petitioners if permission is granted. He added that during the previous event, various vanity vans were parked by the petitioners on the beach, commercial advertisements of political parties were displayed and the entire area was barricaded by organisers due to which the view of Girgaum Chowpatty was restricted.

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The petitioners denied the submissions by BMC and Jaykar, and said that even during Ganpati festival, the civic body permits a large number of heavy vehicles on the beach for limited hours.

The bench observed that two other festivals – Ram Leela and Krishna Leela – are also organised at the Chowpatty, and that they are spread over several days, unlike the Christmas Music Festival, which is only a one-day event.

It noted that not a single complaint of nuisance being created or breach of security at the festival had been received since 2016. It observed that 25,000 persons could not be accommodated in nearly 4000-square metre area, adding it would create possibility of a stampede.

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Passing an interim order allowing the music event on a 15,000- square metre area, the court said its decision should not be considered a precedent, adding that such applications for relaxations shall be considered in the future on the facts and on its own merits.

Seeking affidavits in reply from the respondent authorities to the review pleas, the bench posted further hearing to January 20.

First published on: 02-12-2022 at 22:30 IST
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