Team Anna earns sharp rebuke from Bombay High Court

December 23rd, 2011 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare Mumbai, Dec 23 (IANS) “How is the country’s interest involved”, the Bombay High Court asked sharply to Team Anna while rejecting their petition for a concession in the charges to hire the MMRDA grounds here for Anna Hazare’s agitation from Dec 27 on the ground that the protest is in national interest.

“We are afraid that such issues cannot be decided by the court. This court cannot come to the conclusion as to whether this agitation is in public interest or politically motivated,” a division bench of Justices P.B. Majmudar and Mridula Bhatkar observed.

The court also rejected the petition on the ground that the petitioner’s organisation - Jagrut Nagrik Manch - was not a registered social organisation, a mandatory requirement for seeking concession from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

“It cannot be said that the petitioners have undertaken a national event for the MMRDA to exempt them from rent for the ground,” Justice Majmudar observed.

The court observed that if Team Anna wanted to agitate, they must pay the hire charges for the venue.

“We cannot allow parallel canvassing when parliament is seized with debate on the Lokpal bill. You can propagate the bill sitting at home. Till now the bill has not been passed. No one knows what form and what features it will have. Is public debate permissible at this stage,” the court questioned.

Team Anna members had filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court Thursday demanding the MMRDA grounds free of cost since the proposed agitation was in public interest.

“How is country’s interest involved? We are a democratic set up. We have elected a government. Wouldn’t your agitation interfere in the functioning of Parliament? The bill will be debated in parliament where our elected representatives will plead our case,” Majmudar said.

The bench, however, said that a fresh application from a registered social organisation can be made to seek concessions and that the state-run body shall consider it on merit and according to their discretion.

The court also rejected the prayer that the gates of the enclosed area in Azad Maidan (in south Mumbai) - another proposed venue for the fast - be opened to accommodate more people.

Hazare’s India Against Corruption (IAC) has received permission for two sites in the city - MMRDA grounds in central Mumbai and Azad Maidan in South Mumbai.

Maharashtra’s sports ministry had earlier Friday raised objections over Hazare’s hunger strike at Azad Maidan, saying the ground was reserved for sports and religious activities.

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