A bench led by Justice V Gopala Gowda issued a notice on a petition moved by an ISKCON member seeking permission to use Shivaji Park ground for the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra.
Appearing for ISCKON and its member Dinesh Shetty, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade argued that the Bombay High Court order rejecting their plea was erroneous since it sought to stop an event which was being organised peacefully for several years now. He contended that the HC did not have to take over a function of the government and regulate such activities otherwise allowed under the municipal laws.
The bench, perusing the High Court judgment, pointed out that if Rath Yatra, being a religious event, was allowed then plethora of similar requests would come up from other religious groups for use of Shivaji Park.
Naphade responded that the park could be used for 45 days for these events under the bylaws and hence there was nothing wrong in permitting Rath Yatra. He added that ISKCON was willing to defer its event till the time the apex court decides its appeal.
At this, the court admitted the petition and issued a notice to the Maharashtra government and others. It has listed the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
The High Court had last week rejected its petition to let it hold Jagannath Rath Yatra at Shivaji Park, saying that only in rare and exceptional cases, the court could permit the park to be used for other purposes other than a playground. The ISKCON had to move the court after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had rejected their application seeking permission for the Yatra.
An interim order of the High Court had declared the park as a silence zone. It further held that with the exception of four days such as the Maharashtra Day, Republic Day, Independence Day and B R Ambedkar’s death anniversary, the use of park could not be made for any other function other than playground.