The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted permission to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction to amend its petition to challenge the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) decision refusing permission to hold their annual Dussehra rally at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park.
A division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and Kamal Khata said it would hear the petition on Friday. Meanwhile, the court will also hear an application filed by rebel MLA Sada Sarvankar, from Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s camp, opposing the Thackeray-led Sena’s petition.
Appearing for the Thackeray-led faction, senior counsel Aspi Chinoy told the court that the BMC had this morning passed an order rejecting their application seeking permission to hold the rally on October 5. “The BMC in its order has only said that they are rejecting the application due to a possible law and order situation as the other faction (Shinde’s side) has also applied for the same," Chinoy said.
He then sought to amend their petition to challenge the civic body’s decision. Senior counsel Milind Sathe who was appearing for the BMC, opposed this and said the petition has become infructuous as it only sought for the BMC to take a decision on their application and this has been done.
The bench, however, noted that the petition has also sought the court to grant permission. “This is a wider prayer according to us. Hence, we are allowing the petitioner to amend the prayer," the court said. The Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in its plea had said the party was constrained to approach the HC as the BMC had not taken a decision on their applications submitted in August.
Sarvankar, meanwhile, claimed in his application that the dispute on who represents the “real Shiv Sena" was pending before the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India and hence, the high court should not hear or pass any directions in the petition at hand. He also stated that he belonged to the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde who is the “Mukyaneta of the real Shiv Sena" and has the majority support.
The MLA said the Thackeray faction, under the garb of this petition, was trying to lay claim on the Shiv Sena. However, the Thackeray-led Sena said in its plea that the party had held the Dussehra rally every year at Shivaji Park since 1966. Only in 2020 and 2021, the rally could not be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it said.
The petition added that while in 2016, the state government had designated Shivaji Park as a recreational ground to be used only for sports activities, at that the government had earmarked a few days in the year for non-sports activities and the Dussehra rally was also included in those days.
The Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which comprised the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, collapsed in June this year after a revolt led by Eknath Shinde against the Sena leadership. Shinde was later sworn in as the chief minister with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
Both the Thackeray-led Sena and the rival group led by Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde had sought permission to hold their Dusshera rallies at Shivaji Park. The BMC on Thursday refused permission to both the factions. As an alternative, the two factions had also applied for permission to hold the rally at the MMRDA ground at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai. Last week, the Shinde faction got the nod for holding a rally at the BKC.
(With PTI Inputs)
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