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Supreme Court refuses nod to use mikes in Bengal rallies

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Feb 12, 2019, 5:25 am IST
Updated : Feb 12, 2019, 5:25 am IST

The BJP contended that this order would affect free canvassing during the ensuing general elections in April/ May.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI/File)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI/File)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a petition filed by the West Bengal BJP challenging an order passed by the Mamata Banerjee government in 2013 imposing a blanket ban on the use of microphones in the state during February and March every year in view of examinations.

The BJP  contended that this order would affect free canvassing during the ensuing general elections in April/ May. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Sanjeev Khanna rejected plea.

The CJI told senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, “You are challenging an order of 2013?” Mr Rohatgi replied, “Yes, but it is applied every year. Your lordships had passed an order disposing of the appeal with the direction that we procure the requisite permission. We are not saying that you are coming late... but the children are writing their exams around this time,” remarked the Chief Justice.

The counsel said, “Yes, that is an important issue, but so is this. This is also the time when I have rallies and public meetings. If we do it in a ‘maidan’, there would be no problem. As Chief Justice Gogoi proceeded to dismiss the plea, the senior advocate wished to withdraw the petition, with a view to approach the high court. “If you want to withdraw, withdraw it. But we are not giving any liberty to approach the high court,” said the Chief Justice.

The state government passed an order under the Environment Protection Act and Noise Pollution Rules to prevent any form of environmental pollution in the state, particularly to prevent any inconvenience to the students preparing for their annual examinations.

The BJP in its petition said that the impugned government order is patently overboard and designed to create impediments in the activities of the Bharatiya Janata Party- a national political party which has a significant presence in the state of West Bengal for building up public support for the ensuing elections which have to be held no later than May 2019.

According to the BJP, while the intention to check noise pollution appears to be a legitimate purpose, “A blanket ban on the use of microphones in any residential area or near educational institutions virtually results in a complete ban on the use of microphones in any residential area or near educational institutions virtually results in a complete ban on the use of microphones during” the said period. The BJP pleaded that the impugned notification should be stayed during the period proximate to elections, especially general elections.

Tags: supreme court, mamata banerjee government