Rejecting a petition seeking permission to hold Jagannath Rath Yatra at Shivaji Park grounds, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said that only in rare and exceptional cases, the court can permit the park to be used for other purposes other than using it as a playground. On this specific petition the court said the request can “by no stretch of imagination can this case be taken as that.”
Justices A S Oka and A K Menon were hearing a writ petition filed by ISKCON organisation which had sought permission to use the Shivaji Park ground for Jagannath Rath Yatra on February 21, 2015. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had rejected the petitioner’s application seeking permission for the yatra.
“In rare and exceptional cases, the court can permit the park to be used for other purposes other than playground. But exceptions are exceptions and cannot be done in a routine manner,” said the HC. The court said that as per earlier orders Shivaji Park cannot be used for any non-sporting activities other than the purpose of playground.
The interm orders had said that with the exception of four days such as the Maharashtra Day, Republic Day, Independence Day and Dr B R Ambedkar’s death anniversary, the use of park cannot be made for any other function other than playground. The HC had also declared the ground a silence zone.
The petitioner had pointed out that permission had been granted for various activities including for holding a political rally by Shiv Sena on Dussehra. It maintained that they were not seeking permission for not only a religious activity but also a charitable activity.
Meanwhile, the BMC, on Thursday, raised the issue of whether Shivaji Park was a recreational ground or playground.
The court said that this issue was ‘still at large.’ The court will now pass directions with regard to a public interest litigation relating to Shivaji Park on February 23.
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