MUMBAI: With the Shiv Sena’s application to hold its annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park pending before the BMC for a month now, the party has made a strong pitch before the Bombay HC to strengthen its case. The party has conducted the rally at Shivaji Park since 1966, it told Bombay high court on Wednesday while urging it to direct the civic authorities to forthwith grant permission for the event.
“There is no reason that BMC is not granting nod. The application has to be decided forthwith,” its advocate Joel Carlos told Justices Ramesh Dhanuka and Kamal Khata while mentioning the matter to seek a hearing. The judges have set a date for Thursday.
According to the petition,Shiv Sena was formed as a party in 1966 and registered on October 19, 1989. In 1966, the founder “Mr Bal Thackeray thought it fit that a public meeting or a rally should be organised for informing the people of Maharashtra about the future goals and party policies.” On October 20, 1966, the Sena’s first Dussehra Melawa was held on Dussehra at Shivaji Park. Thereafter it has been held every year.
“The Dussehra Rally and Shastra Puja conducted by Sena has become integral part of the Dussehra celebrations for lakhs of workers, all of whom, without fail converge at Shivaji Park on this auspicious day to hear the party chieft,” it said.
Rallies and functions at the venue have been restricted since August 2010 when the HC, acting on a PIL, banned nonsporting activities except under special circumstances. The state government issued a government resolution on January 20, 2016 allowing an exemption of 45 days when non-sporting activities can be taken up and it includes the Dussehra Melawa, the petition said.
It said since this notification BMC has been granting permission every year. During 2020 and 2021 the rally was not held due to Covid-19 restrictions. This year, the party had applied to BMC on August 22 and 26. “However although more than 20 days have elapsed the respondents (BMC) have not responded and granted the usual permission,” it said.
It also said partymen from across the state arrive at Shivaji Park for the rally “without any invitation and without any formal announcement.”