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HC refuses to hear ISKCON’s plea for Yatra at Shivaji Park

Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today refused to entertain a plea of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) to grant permission to hold their annual Jagannath Rath Yatra at the sprawling Shivaji Park here.

ISKCON had sought a direction of the High Court to Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to grant permission to hold the yatra this year.

The plea was made by ISKCON after civic body refused permission on the basis of a May 2010 order of the High Court declaring Shivaji Park as a silence zone.

Justices V M Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, disposing of the notice of motion moved by ISKCON, today asked the petitioner to move the appropriate bench as directed by the Supreme Court.

On January 2 last year, another bench of the High Court had refused to grant permission to ISKCON to hold the yatra at Shivaji Park, saying the city’s open public spaces should be allowed to be used only for their designated purpose.

Being aggrieved, ISKCON had moved the Supreme Court which asked them to move the Bombay High again with liberty to file fresh plea before an appropriate bench (the bench which had earlier rejected its plea).

Accordingly, ISKCON today moved the bench of V M Kanade which said that it was not the appropriate bench as directed by the Supreme Court. Therefore, it did not entertain the petitioner’s plea and asked ISKCON to approach the appropriate bench of the High Court.

Earlier, the HC bench, while refusing permission, had observed, “Shivaji Park area is widely used by sportspersons and children for sports and recreation. Allowing the function would mean rendering it inaccessible not only for the day in question but also for some days before and after.

To my mind, the city’s public open spaces such as Shivaji Park should be allowed to be used only for their designated purposes, and the exceptions, if any, should be few,” Justice Gautam Patel had said in the order last year.

The court had also observed earlier that other functions held in the park like Republic Day and Maharashtra Day are both “secular and state-organised functions.”

According to the petitioner, over one lakh people are likely to attend the yatra and that even previously in 2013 the High Court had granted them permission.

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