Rath yatra: HC hears state, BJP; order today


Metros, Kolkata

This would require huge deployment of security personnel.

Calcutta High Court

Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Wednesday told the Calcutta high court that intelligence reports expressing apprehensions of breach of communal harmony were the reason for denial of permission to BJP’s ‘rath yatras’ in the state.

Countering the state government’s stand, BJP counsel S. K. Kapoor alleged that the denial of permission was pre-determined and without any basis, adding that “in the worst days of the British period Mahatma Gandhi held the Dandi March and nobody stopped him” but “now the government here says it won’t allow a political procession”.

The matter will be taken up for hearing again Thursday, when Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty said he will pass an order on the petition moved by the BJP challenging the state government’s denial of permission to its rally.

Kapoor told the court that the state government has not put forward any objective data to bolster its claim and was trying to forcibly stop a political party from holding processions, which is a Const-itution-guaranteed right. Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted a sealed report to the court and said that the stated issues in BJP’s brochure publicising the yatra are communally sensitive in nature.

He submitted that the court has limited scope of judicial review in an administrative decision to not allow the yatra on the basis of intelligence inp-uts. He also stated that 2,100 permissions were granted for different political rallies and meetings in West Ben-gal from 2017, but in this case the ‘rath yatra’ was not allowed owing to the apprehensions.

Appearing for the state police, counsel Anand Grover submitted that the BJP has stated that the programme was of huge proportion with three ‘rath yatras’ beginning from three parts of the state and covering all districts spanning 34 days when a total 154 public meetings would be held. This would require huge deployment of security personnel.

He said that if the BJP wishes to hold meetings in a few districts, it can be allowed, but rallies of such a huge proportion cannot be given approval owing to logistical reasons and apprehensions.