Sessions court 'ungags' Raj, prosecution to challenge

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Mumbai, Feb 28 (UNI) A sessions court here today stayed the extension of the gag order imposed on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.

Earlier, the police had passed orders prohibiting Raj Thackeray from holding rallies, ''dharnas'' or press conferences. The gag lapsed on the midnight of February 25 but was extended again for a week.

Mr Thackeray had challenged the gag order earlier. His counsel Ashok Mundargi argued before the court that there was no emergency like situation in the metropolis that necessitated the extension of the gag order. The government could extend the gag order but the special executive magistrate had no power to do so, Mr Thackeray's counsel had argued.

Arguing in favour of the extension and to indicate the gravity of the situation, public prosecutor Satish Borulkar told the court that 47 cases of rioting had been registered against MNS activists, and the last case was registered on February 19.

Replying to Mr Thackeray's contention that he had been issued no show cause notice to explain his side before imposition of the gag order,the public prosecutor said because of the enormity of the situation,there was no sufficient time to issue such notice.

After hearing both the sides, additional sessions judge S N Sardesai stayed the ban order.

However, prosecution has sought time to challenge the stay order in higher court. Judge Sardesai has granted one day to move the higher court.

UNI ST MAZ MS VC1858

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