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SC allows Maha govt to hold event at Girgaum Chowpatty beach

Supreme court

New Delhi : The Supreme Court today stayed a Bombay High Court order and allowed the Maharashtra government to hold an event at Girgaum Chowpatty beach in Mumbai to kickstart the ‘Make in India Week’ programme, which will be attended by the Prime Minister.

A bench comprising Justices M Y Eqbal and Arun Mishra allowed the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state, that the proposed function is “India’s pride” and the administration does not propose to raise any permanent structure at the beach site.

He also opposed the apprehension that the holding of such an event will obstruct traffic flow in South Mumbai saying, “I am the State. Do you think that the State will obstruct the smooth flow of traffic?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, delegates from 56 countries and several other dignitaries are scheduled to take part in this programme, he said.

Finding merit in his submission, the bench said, “We issue notice. In the meantime, interim relief in terms of prayer ‘a’ (seeking permission to hold the function) is being granted.”

The apex court had on February 1 agreed to hear the appeal of the Maharashtra government against the Bombay High Court order denying permission to hold the event at the beach.

The state had said in its plea that the idea behind holding such an event, to be held between February 13 and 18, is to attract investment in Maharashtra and certain events have been allowed to be held at Girgaum beach in the past also.

The high court had on January 28 refused to allow the state to hold the event at the beach.

The Maharashtra government had filed an application before the high court after a committee, appointed by the HC in 2001 to monitor activities on the beach, asked the government to seek the court’s permission.

The HC-appointed committee had in 2005 submitted the guidelines on what activities and functions can be permitted to be held at the beach.

The high court, while refusing to grant permission to the state government, had observed that permitting the government to hold such functions at the beach will be “faulty” to the guidelines of the committee.

In its application, the state had said it proposed to host a ‘Maharashtra Night’ on February 14 at Girgaum beach to showcase its art and culture and industrial development, adding the event will end with a laser show and fireworks display.

“This ‘Make in India’ event is much grand and important. At least three Prime Ministers of different countries are excepted to attend the event along with several other VIPs and foreign delegates. The function will be open to the public also,” the state had told the high court.

The court, however, had refused to accept the state’s contention, saying, “Make in India programme can’t be equated with the solemn function of celebrating the existence of Maharashtra for 50 years. The presence of VIPs and foreign delegates does not mean the guidelines accepted by the high court earlier have to be modified.”

The high court had also noted that the state government never objected to the committee’s guidelines when it was recommended and even when it was accepted by the court in 2005.

The state had informed the court that around two lakh sq ft area on the beach will be used for the function with 500 to 600 chairs for VIPs and other guests after which the place will be open to public.

When the court questioned as to why the function has to be held on the beach, the state had said, “It would be picturesque to hold such a function to showcase Mumbai with the Marine drive and sea in the backdrop.”

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