The Bombay High Court on Thursday set aside a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) order that refused permission to Durga Parmeshwari Seva Mandal president and NCP leader Rakhee Jadhav to hold Chhath puja at Acharya Atre Maidan at Pant Nagar in Ghatkopar (East).
The bench also set aside a BMC order that allowed the Atal Samajik Sanskruti Seva Pratishthan to hold the puja. As per Jadhav’s mandal, the Pratisthan was given the nod despite not having applied for it and on the basis of a letter from a local BJP leader, former corporator Bhalchandra Shirsat.
The court held there was “malice” in the BMC action and asked the Pant Nagar police station to decide on a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the mandal at the earliest. It clarified that the mandal should comply with the BMC’s conditions.
A vacation bench of Justice N J Jamdar and Justice Gauri V Godse passed an order on the plea that said police had refused to grant the certificate despite the traffic and fire departments having issued the certificates. The mandal had sought approval to construct artificial ponds for Chhath puja on October 30 and 31. Its petition said the mandal had got BMC permission to construct artificial ponds at the same ground for Ganesh Utsav and Durga Puja.
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On October 19, Jadhav received a letter from the BMC stating that it would cancel the permission. The mandal argued that the civic body had not not issued any showcause notice or granted it any hearing before cancelling the permission. The other mandal was allowed to hold the event merely on the basis of the BJP leader’s letter, it further argued.
However, the BMC counsel said the mandal had not met certain requirements in order to be eligible for the permission. The other mandal’s counsel, Amogh Singh, said it had all the NOCs and even paid the charges required to hold the event.
The bench questioned the timing of the revocation of the permission and asked the BMC why the mandal was given permission for Ganpati or Navratri celebrations though it did not have the required NOCs.
The BMC had no response when the bench asked if it had informed the mandal of the missing documents. Singh also submitted that the mandal had violated rules during Ganesh Utsav and therefore could not be granted permission again.
The bench, however, noted that the BMC had allowed the same mandal to conduct a Navratri event at the same ground.
Government counsel Milind More opposed Singh’s suggestion to allow Jadhav’s mandal to conduct the puja on nearby ground or in a smaller portion of the Atre Maidan, stating that both mandals would continue their fight and create law and order problems.
The bench thus quashed both the orders of the civic body.