Shivaji Park declared silence zone, political parties upset

Posted by on May 5th, 2010 and filed under Immigration/Law/Rights, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Mumbai, May 5 (IANS) The Bombay High Court Wednesday virtually banned noisy political rallies in the historic Shivaji Park, the biggest playground in the heart of Mumbai, by declaring it a silence zone. The move was met with criticism from political parties who described the decision as ‘harsh’.

A division bench of Justice F.I. Rebello and Justice Mridula Bhatkar delivered the interim order over a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city-based Veckom Trust and Dadar residents Sharad Dixit and J.D. Udeshi.

While declaring Shivaji Park a silence zone, the court said loudspeakers will be allowed in the park during functions related to the Republic Day Jan 26, Maharashtra Day May 1 and death anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar Dec 6.

The petitioners moved the court in September 2009 and sought a complete ban on non-sporting activities in the park.

‘This is predominantly a sports ground. Why is it being used for non-sports functions?’ questioned Dixit.

‘Loudspeakers disturb the calm and peace of the area. Hence, we were forced to file a PIL,’ added Dixit.

‘It surely is a welcome order for the residents of Shivaji Park area. This will set a precedence for all other locations in the city that have not been notified as silence zones,’ said Sumera Abdul Ali, a noise pollution activist from Awaz Foundation.

The PIL said Shivaji Park was shown in the city’s development plan as reserved for sporting activities and, therefore, it cannot be used for any other purpose.

Political parties were upset at the high court ruling, which they described as ‘harsh’, and wondered where will they now hold political rallies.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray said it was a harsh decision. ‘While I completely respect the court’s decision, there has to be a way out,’ he said.

The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, reserved its comments. ‘We will study the copy of the judgment carefully and will be able to say anything only after that,’ said party spokesperson Neelam Gorhe.

Party workers of the Congress also felt that they had been left with no ground in which to hold their political functions.

‘Shivaji Park has been a meeting place for various movements in the past. A lot of historic movements have been initiated from here. Now that it has been declared as a silence zone, it makes me wonder if there is any such place left,’ said Hussain Dalvai, the party spokesperson.

‘I do not mean to disrespect the court’s decision, but there should be an appeal in the Supreme Court against this order,’ Dalvai added.

Agreed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Madhav Bhandari. He said political rallies have already been banned at Girgaum Chowpatty and Azad Maidan – both in south Mumbai. ‘Where do we organise political rallies in Mumbai now? Does this mean, rallies are to be banned?’ he asked.

Bhandari said this move is strange for a democratic nation like India.

Eminent cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar started their cricketing journey by practicing at this historic ground.

Apart from sports activities, more than 8,000 people come to Shivaji Park every day for jogging and exercise, and morning and evening walks.

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