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Cannot stop any public rally, Bombay HC on allegation that Ram Navami processions deliberately pass through Muslim-majority areas

By Shreya Agarwal      15 April, 2024 06:36 PM      0 Comments
Cannot stop any public rally Bombay HC says on allegation that Ram Navami processions deliberately pass through Muslim majority areas

MUMBAI: While calling upon the Maharashtra Police to ensure that no law and order issues occur during the Ram Navami rally in the Malad - Malwani area of Mumbai, where a large number of Muslims live, the Bombay High Court today said that "it cannot stop any public rally".

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande was hearing a plea by 5 residents from Mumbai, including two victims of the Mira Road violence questioning lack of police action against Maharashtra BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane and Geeta Jain and Telangana MLA T Raja Singh for alleged hate speeches during the Mira Road violence in January 2024.

The petition stated that Rane also visited other suburbs like Govandi and Malvani and gave more hate speeches.

During the hearing it was observed by one of the parties that "organizers of the Ram Navami rally deliberately pass through areas where people belonging to the minority community live", and of past speeches allegedly deliberately given outside mosques during prayer times.

It was pointed out that the Malad - Malwani area had witnessed riots during the Ram Navami procession last year as well.

For this, the bench responded, saying that while it could not stop any public rally, it hoped that in the event of a breach of law and order, the police would take immediate action.

The Bench, while addressing Advocate General Dr Birendra Saraf, said, “Ensure that routes are changed. Ultimately, if there is a law and order problem, you'll face problems..."

Saraf, representing the state of Maharashtra assured the Bench that the police will take necessary steps in this regard.

He said, "Your Ladyship has asked the highest officer and they (police) will exercise their duties responsibly."

The bench stated, “We cannot stop any public rally. But we expect your officers will take appropriate action in accordance with law if there is any breach irrespective of political party. In another matter, we had granted permission (to MLA T Raja Singh) to hold the rally in Maharashtra on the assurance of the undertaking that there will not be any breach. Despite that, an FIR had to be lodged. If there is any breach of law, action should be taken. If they don't take action then we will ask police to file an affidavit."

Earlier, on April 9 the Court had ordered the concerned Commissioners of Police to personally examine videos of speeches of the leaders and take an appropriate decision on registration of FIRs.

The Court was informed that the concerned Commissioners will take a decision within a week in this regard. as to whether FIRs for hate speech are to be lodged against the concerned leaders.

The Court directed the Advocate General to personally be involved in the exercise and added that whenever action is initiated, the same should be seen through till the end.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on April 23.

Cause Title: Aftab Siddique v. State of Maharashtra & Ors



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