The Bombay high court on Wednesday raised security concerns about the use of Shivaji Park for swearing-in ceremony of Shiva Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray as Maharashtra chief minister.
“Just imagine what will happen at the ground and the by lanes around, if there is a gathering of 4 to 5 lakh people at the ground,” the bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice RI Chagla asked the lawyer appearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The ground will not be available to locals, senior citizens, the bench said, adding that this is just one aspect. The material for the ceremony will be brought by trucks, there will be problem of parking large number of vehicles in the vicinity, the judges added.
“We say nothing about tomorrow, but pray that nothing (untoward) happens tomorrow,” said the bench and expressed concern that such programs may now become a regular feature at the Shivaji Park.
The high court had in 2010 declared the area as a ‘silent zone’ after a PIL was filed by an NGO.
The court had then said that programmes can be held at the Shivaji Park only on December 6 (death anniversary of B R Ambedkar), May 1 (Maharashtra Foundation Day) and on January 26 (Republic Day).
However, the state government and the Mumbai civic body later carved out 45 days in a year to permit non-sporting activities at the ground.
BMC’s lawyer responded saying in the past four years the civic body has not breached the limit by even a day.
The bench, however, felt that the municipal corporation, the state government and the police machinery cannot function in this fashion - continue to grant permissions for various non-sporting activities, without putting in place requisite policy.
The judges also said time has come that senior bureaucrats like the municipal commissioner and the commissioner of police should speak out about the problems faced in allowing the Shivaji Park for such events.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Wecom Trust seeking a declaration that Shivaji Park was a playground and no non-sporting activities, especially public rallies could be held there.
The petitioner body contended that despite being a silent zone police routinely grant permission for using loudspeakers and no effective action is taken in case of violations of the Noise Pollution Rules by event organisers.
The court has now posted the PIL for further hearing, on December 12.