Mumbai Congress president Bhai Jagtap on Tuesday withdrew his plea filed in the Bombay High Court for seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to grant permission for the party’s scheduled rally at the Shivaji Park here on December 28. Jagtap’s petition, filed on Monday, was scheduled to be heard by a division bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and Abhay Ahuja on Tuesday. However, Jagtap’s counsel V A Thorat mentioned the plea in the morning before the bench and said he has instructions to withdraw the petition unconditionally. The HC bench then permitted the plea to be withdrawn.
The Congress leader’s counsel did not specify the reason for the withdrawal. In the plea, Jagtap had said an application was submitted to the state government in October 2021, seeking permission to hold the rally where Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been invited to address a gathering. However, till date no decision has been taken on the application, the petition said. The plea had sought the HC to direct the state government to grant it permission to hold the public meeting and erect a temporary stage on one portion of the sprawling ground.
Jagtap, in the petition, said the party had sought permission to use the Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai from December 22 to December 28 for the purpose of holding a public meeting on the occasion of the 137th Foundation Day of the Indian National Congress. The plea said December 28 is a very important day in history of the Congress as it is the party’s foundation day.
The HC had in 2010 declared the Shivaji Park area located in Dadar as a silence zone after a public interest litigation was filed by an NGO. The court had then said programmes can be held at the park only on select occasions – December 6 (death anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar), May 1 (Maharashtra foundation day) and January 26 (Republic Day). However, the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) later marked 45 days in a year to permit non-sporting activities in the iconic ground.
As per the plea, the BMC had submitted its report to the state government over its recommendation on whether or not the Congress rally could be held at the venue. “Since, the state government is the competent authority, the final decision has to be taken by it (government). Out of the 45 days marked for non-sporting activities, 11 days are kept for miscellaneous activities,” Thorat said.
The quota of 11 days is still pending this year, he said. The Congress is a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led MVA government in Maharashtra. The rally has been planned in the midst of growing worries about the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.
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