The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction to hold its annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai, reported Live Law.
The court rejected an intervention application filed by Sada Sarvankar, an MLA from Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction. The court held that Sarvankar has no standing in the case.
The rally has been one of the important annual events for the Shiv Sena since the party was founded in 1966. On Thursday, Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, had denied permission to both the factions to hold the Dussehra rally at the park citing law and order problem cited by the police.
The Thackeray faction had challenged the civic body’s decision in the High Court.
In 2016, the commissioner of the civic body had granted permission for holding the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park. The permission was granted till 2019. The rally was not held in the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In its petition, Shiv Sena Secretary Anil Desai contended that the permission was not granted even though the application for the rally was submitted over a month before it was to be held, reported Bar and Bench.
“In our view, BMC’s order rejecting the application citing law and order is a clear abuse of process of the law,” the High Court said on Friday. “It is not the corporation’s case that in the last seven decades there was a law-and-order situation.”
At Friday’s hearing, Advocate Apsi Chinoy, representing the Thackeray faction, argued that the civic body’s decision to reject the application as another one was filed by an MLA was “perverse and irrational”. The other petition was filed by the Shinde faction.
Chinoy argued that if another application for permission to hold the rally creates a law and order situation, the police should control it.
“Any MLA wanting to hold [rally] at the same spot cannot be a ground for not allowing [permission],” he added. “Shiv Sena’s right to hold the rally has been recognised by way of practice, since they have been holding it since 50 years, custom, tradition and also the resolution issued by the Maharashtra government in 2016 earmarking the ground to be used for Dussehra melawa [rally].
Senior Advocate Dr Milind Sathe, appearing for the civic body, argued that the Thackeray faction does not hold any right to hold the rally. Sathe also told the court the the civic body’s decision was not arbitrary as it refused permission to all the applicants, not just the Thackeray faction.
“The right is to assemble peacefully and lawfully and not to hold a rally, that right is not ascertained in the petition” he argued.