Mumbai, Mar 3 (UNI) Former Shiv Sena MP Satish Pradhan, who has now switched to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), has moved the Bombay High Court challenging extension of the ''gag order'' that restricts the party chief Raj Thackeray and its leaders as well as his followers from issuing any provocative statements, making any speeches or holding public rallies.
The order, issued by DCP (Operations) of Mumbai Police originally on February 11, in capacity as an Executive Magistrate under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), was extended on February 25 till March 3. It not only prohibits the MNS chief but also its other functioneries and that is why Satish Pradhan has moved the high court challenging it.
Though operation of the order is ending tonight, a division bench, comprising Justices Bilal Nazki and Sharad Bobde, today ordered the state government to file reply affidavit on the petition within a week's time.
The former MP challenged the gag order on almost the same grounds on which Raj Thackeray himself challenged it in a Sessions court here, saying no notice of hearing was issued by the Executive Magistrate before passing or altering the order to extend till March 3, thereby violating principles of natural justice.
He further contended that though the Executive Magistrate has powers to issue such a prohibitory order, he has no authority to alter or modify it.
While complaining that extension of the gag order has taken away constitutional rights guaranteed to him under Article 19 (Freedom of Speech) of the Constitution, Mr Pradhav argued that, on February 25, there was neither any occasion nor any emergency situation or any threat to public peace to extend the operation of the order and everything was normal in Mumbai.
The matter will come up for further hearing on March 10.
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