The Bombay High Court has ordered the BMC to ensure that Navratri celebration being organised by a Congress corporator on a recreation ground, is conducted according to rules laid down and that the ground is restored to its original condition after the festivities.
A division bench of judges SC Dharmadhikari and GS Patel issued the order on a petition by activist Ganesh Akree who complained that Ekta grounds, in Borivali (West), had been alloted by the civic body to corporator Shiva Shetty by cricumventing the rules laid down for a recreation ground, and that this amounted to misuse of a public facility.
The judges said that as per the rules for playgrounds only one-third of the plot could be used for the Navratri celebration and all citizens should be allowed entry to the programme, which the organisers had declared was open to all.
Naveen Chomal, counsel for Akree, argued in court that recreation grounds could not be alloted for private use, but BMC officials had permitted this by adopting the rule for playgrounds. He said that they had violated their own rules to please politicians like Congress member of Parliament Sanjay Nirupam, who had planned the programme in his constituency.
“The organisers have deprived citizens the use of the ground during this period. On top of this, they are commercially exploiting this public facility by charging entrants to the programme,” said Chomal.
The judges ordered the civic body to address all the grievances of the petitioner and implement the rules on the matter. “We are sure that the municipal corporation will restrict the usage of the ground to one-third portion in terms of its applicable policies and revised till date... Equally, if there are any complaints of entry being restricted and without the municipal corporation’s prior approval or permission, then the municipal corporation will look into such complaints as well. Once there is a policy in place the clauses thereof have to be read together and harmoniously and not in isolation,” the judges said.