Bombay HC No to Kala Ghoda Festival At Cross Maidan

The festival, which starts tomorrow, had Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain performance scheduled for tomorrow evening at the Cross Maidan. - Sakshi Post

Mumbai: Lambasting the Maha government for allowing events to be held at public properties free of cost and without any conditions imposed, the Bombay High Court today refused permission for cultural events as part of the Kala Ghoda festival to be held at Cross Maidan here till February 5.

The festival, which starts tomorrow, had Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain performance scheduled for tomorrow evening at the Cross Maidan. Cultural events of the festival were shifted to Cross Maidan in the past few years after Kala Ghoda area in south Mumbai was declared as silence zone.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh was today hearing a petition filed by the Kala Ghoda Association and Organisation for Verdant Ambience and Land (OVAL) – organisers of the Kala Ghoda festival, seeking permission to hold the cultural events.

As per earlier directives of the High Court, for any event to be held at Cross Maidan, the organisers have to seek permission from it. The city collector on January 30 passed an order permitting the events to be held.

However, the court today after perusing the order said it was passed without "proper application of mind" and without according proper reasons.

"It is our prima facie opinion that a public property, especially one that is situated in a prime location, cannot be allowed to be used free of cost and with no conditions imposed."The government has not even passed a reasoned order as to why it feels such permission can be given," Justice Oka said.

The court said the order was vague and such blanket permissions without imposing conditions on the organisers cannot be granted. "This is disastrous. The government should take back this order and pass a fresh order with reasons," it said.

Following this, government counsel S U Kamdar told the court that the government would pass an additional order on February 5 with reasons. The bench has now posted the petition for hearing on February 5. The petitioners' counsel Birendra Saraf then sought the court to consider their case and permit them to hold the events and said all arrangements have been made and Zakir Hussain was scheduled to perform tomorrow.

The bench, however, refused and said: "How can we grant permission when we have found fault with the government order. You (organisers) should not have assumed that the state government, civic body and court will pass orders in your favour. You proceed on the footing that everyone will allow and you fix all the events and now you are saying permit." The court noted that under the Development Plan, Cross Maidan was a recreational ground and as per the civic body only recreational and social events can be allowed in such places.

"The government should not be supporting all this. The government before passing order should have first seen whether it is a charitable event or a profitable one. This is very strange," Justice Oka said.


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