The Bombay High Court Tuesday allowed the Shiv Sena to conduct its traditional Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park,declared a silence zone following a High Court order in 2010,holding that the traditional rally held at the ground for the past 47 years is a socio-cultural event followed by speeches by political leaders.
The court took into account the submissions made by the Senas counsel V A Thorat that the party also distributes apta leaves on the stage at the rally and they also burn the effigy of Ravana to celebrate the festival. Chief Justice Shah said that the court had allowed the party to hold the rally because of Thorats contention that it is organised as a cultural function.
Otherwise other political parties will claim parity (for holding a rally at the park), Chief Justice Shah said. The court also noted that the party was not seeking permission to hold the rally as a right.
However,the court questioned the party over newspaper reports of previous years stating that the Shiv Sena had breached the conditions imposed by the court while allowing it to hold the rally. Newspapers say that your speakers (addressing the rally) ridicule the orders of the court, Chief Justice Shah observed. To this,Thorat apologised and said that they would abide by every condition laid down.
While granting permission to the party to hold its rally on the ground on October 13,Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha asked BMC to lay down conditions to be abided by the party including maintaining permissible decibel level at the ground.
Last year,the court had barred the use of conventional loudspeakers and directed that a distributed sound system involving low-watt amplifiers be used instead.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police,Zone 5 and the Deputy Municipal Commissioner were directed to monitor the rally and ensure that the ground is restored to its original state by October 14. They have also been asked to submit a report to the court by October 28.
Firoz Palkhiwala,counsel for Wecom Trust and Awaaz Foundation,who had filed a PIL seeking the declaration of the ground as a silence zone,told the court that for three consecutive years,the political party has been holding its rally on the ground and breaching the permissible noise levels. Palkhiwala also said every year the party has exceeded the 50-decibel level limit permitted in a silence zone.
Thorat,however,countered,The normal range is above 60 decibels. At the signal outside the High Court it is 100 decibels. We live in a noisy city. I am not saying we should continue to be noisy but we have to put up with it or we will have to close down the system.
The state governments counsel M D Naik said that the party had been holding the rally for the last several years and it has always been carried out very nicely and smoothly.