Team Anna's satyagraha could be a nuisance for others: HC

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Anna Hazare
New Delhi, Dec 24: Coming down heavily on Team Anna's agitation plans on Lokpal Bill, the Bombay High Court on Dec 23 said it can't allow "parallel canvassing" when Parliament is debating the issue, observing that what may be a "satyagraha" for the group could be a "nuisance" for others.

The court made these stinging remarks while rejecting Team Anna's petition for a direction to Maharashtra government for allotting MMRDA ground for free or at concessional rates for Anna Hazare's fast due to start on December 27.

Refusing to interfere in the matter, a division bench of Justices P B Majmudar and Mridula Bhatkar said it cannot ask government authorities (MMRDA) to grant exemption toJagrut Nagrik Manch, affiliated to Hazare's India Against Corruption.

The court also said it cannot come to the conclusion if the agitation was in public interest or politically motivated.

"We can't allow parallel canvassing when Parliament is seized with debate on the 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 asked.

Disapproving of the agitation despite the Lokpal Bill being tabled in Parliament, Justice Majmudar asked, "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".

The court further said that as Judges they had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and law. "Under which law are you (petitioner) asking for exemption? It might be Satyagraha for you but for some other factions it might be a nuisance," it said.

When the counsel for the petitioner informed the court that they have got permission for holding the fast in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, the court said, "If Ramlila Ground is available, why don't you hold fast there."

The court also said it cannot direct the government to open the gates to the enclosed area in Azad Maidan, another probable venue for the proposed three-day fast to allow Team Anna larger space for the protest.

"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," it observed.

"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 said.

"It(the petition) is not judicable. If we pass an order allowing your petition then even we will be interfering with the functioning of Parliament," the court further said.

The court said another ground for rejecting the plea was that the petitioner was not a registered social organisation, a mandatory requirement for seeking concession from MMRDA.

When Mahendra Ghelani, advocate for the petitioner, told the court that they would file another application to MMRDA through a registered organisation, the court said they could do that and the state-run body shall consider it on merit and according to their discretion.

The state government had earlier informed the court that the deputy director of Sports and Youth Welfare Services department had refused to open the gates to the enclosed area in Azad Maidan as it would ruin the 22 pitches on the ground.

The court had asked Maharashtra government to inform whether it was ready to open the gates at Azad Maidan, the second option available for Hazare to hold the fast.

PTI

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