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Court observations will affect right to profess religion: BJP to HC

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today told the Bombay High Court that its recent observations that people cannot practice religion anywhere and anytime…

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today told the Bombay High Court that its recent observations that people cannot practice religion anywhere and anytime would affect their right to profess their religion.

However, the party informed the court that it supports implementation of noise pollution rules and that it would support the Maharashtra administration in doing so.

The Mumbai unit of BJP today filed an intervening application following certain observations made by the high Court last month that people cannot practice religion anywhere and anytime and that erection of mandaps and pandals on public roads is illegal.

The court had also raised concern over non-implementation of noise pollution rules during festivals. The court was then hearing a PIL filed by Mahesh Bedekar on the issue of noise pollution norms.

In the application filed by BJP’s Mumbai unit general secretary Sunil Rane today, the party said they organise and celebrate festivals by construction of mandaps and pandals, but it is done with reasonable care without infringing the rights of citizens.

However, by the observations made by the high court, the people’s right to profess their religion was affected, the application said.

When the matter came up for hearing before a division bench of justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite-Dhere even before BJP’s advocate Girish Kulkarni could argue, the court raised several questions.

The bench asked the party to clear its stand on whether it was of the view that pedestrians and traffic be inconvenienced by erection of pandals on busy roads and footpaths. The court also asked whether the party was against implementation of noise pollution rules.

To this, advocate Kulkarni replied in the negative and said the party was in agreement with the court orders.

“In that case you (BJP) can assist the court and the state government in implementing the rules. We are not here to hear grievances of such nature. We are here to see to it that the law is enforced,” the bench said.

The court also rapped the government for not properly implementing the rules or even setting up a redressal mechanism by which citizens can lodge complaints in cases where noise pollution rules are violated.

The court had earlier expressed displeasure over the fact that the government had failed to comply with an order passed by it in March for implementation of noise pollution rules.

Advocate General Anil Singh today tendered an unconditional apology on behalf of the government for its failure to comply with the high court order.

He said that there had been some confusion about the order among secretaries of various departments like the Urban Development, Home and Environment.

Singh assured the court that certain steps would be taken within a week and an affidavit will be filed.

“It has been three months since our order was passed and the officers are meeting now to discuss about complying it.

This shows that the state is not serious in implementing our orders. If you don’t agree with our orders then you are at liberty to challenge it in the Supreme Court,” the court said.

It also clarified that its order was not limited to any one particular religion or festival.

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