December 14, 2021 7:23:57 pm
Mumbai regional Congress committee chief Bhai Jagtap on Tuesday “unconditionally” withdrew his plea from the Bombay High Court seeking permission to hold a rally at Shivaji Park here on December 28, the party’s foundation day. Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi was likely to address the rally.
The plea, filed through advocate Pradeep Thorat, had stated that the Congress, which is a part of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra, had applied for permission to hold a rally and use portions of the ground to G-North ward of BMC, state urban development department and other authorities. It said the party would abide by all norms laid down by the civic body and public health department.
A division bench of Justice A A Sayed and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing Jagtap’s plea. The Congress leader’s counsel told the court that he wants to unconditionally withdraw the plea, but did not specify the reason. The bench accepted the withdrawal and disposed of the plea.
In 2010, the High Court had declared the Shivaji Park area as a ‘silence zone’ and put restrictions on its use for non-sporting activities. The court had then said that programmes can be held only on December 6 ( Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s death anniversary), May 1 (Maharashtra Day) and January 26 (Republic Day).
As per a state government circular in 2016, Shivaji Park can be used for non-sporting activities for 45 days a year. Out of 45 days, the ground can be given on 11 days for non-sporting activities of private organizations and individuals.
Jagtap’s petition said it was the state government’s discretion to take final a decision on the party’s proposal.
He had sought direction to authorities to grant necessary permission for use of Shivaji Park ground from December 22 till December 28. It also sought permission for erecting a temporary stage on a portion of the ground and for use of the portion of ground for December 28 public meetings.
Jagtap had also sought direction to the state urban development department to decide on a proposal of October 7 submitted by petitioner seeking permission to use Shivaji Park ground for the public meeting.
The G North ward of the BMC had cleared the proposal for the rally though the police were against it. The file was waiting for a final nod from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Rahul Gandhi was to be the chief speaker at the rally and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had given her good wishes and expressed inability to be present for the event. Rahul was also planning to meet Thackeray, who is recovering after a surgery.
Speaking to reporters at the city Congress headquarters at CST on Tuesday, Jagtap said, “I have discussed the matter with my higher ups. In last 10 days, there is an increase in cases in Mumbai, but in the last two-three days, there are 18-20 cases of COVID. We were worried. The government had also discussed the issue with us. We will have the rally at a later date when the situation improves.”
Jagtap said there was no issue of the government denying permissions.
He said that Shivaji Park had a capacity of 3.5 lakh and an exhibition of all 61 presidents of the Congress and a huge crowd was expected for the event. Jagtap said that a foundation day function will be done at Tejpal Hall near August Kranti Maidan following Covid-19 appopriate behaviour.
On Saturday, the NCP-controlled home ministry had issued a prohibitory order when AIMIM wanted to hold a Tiranga rally at Chandivali to demand reservation for Muslims. The AIMIM went ahead with the rally. The Mumbai police finally filed an FIR against them.
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