Mumbai

HC dismisses plea challenging order of Wardha Collector

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court has dismissed a petition challenging an order by the District Collector of Wardha granting permission to hold a large gathering. The court warned the Collector to exercise caution and observed he had not realised his mistake as his previous order violated the government’s guidelines.

A Division Bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Avinash Gharote was hearing a petition filed by Rajendra Sharma, a 60-year-old social worker. The Bench directed the Collector to ensure that not more than 50 people attend the gathering and keep a list of their names in his office “to avoid future complications”.

In a previous hearing, the court had noted that the Collector’s order granting permission to Serva Sewa Sangh to hold a gathering of 100 people was in violation of the State government’s orders dated September 30 and October 29, but he deserved to be granted liberty to introspect. However, the Collector simply revised the order and permitted a gathering of not more than 50 people.

‘Not clearly defined’

The court said the government’s orders did not define ‘large public gatherings’ and prescribed a limit on attendees only for gatherings related to marriages and funerals. “We do not think such a ceiling can be applied to a public gathering, so as to distinguish between a small and large one,” the court said.

The court added, “We are, therefore, of the view that what could be a small or large public gathering would have to be decided on the basis of facts and circumstances of each case and there cannot be any exhaustive illustration of all the facts and circumstances which could be considered as determinative factors. Such factors as the availability of space at the proposed venue, the capacity of the organisers to ensure compliance with the standard operating procedure, the ambience at the proposed venue, situation of the proposed venue, accessibility to the proposed venue, and so on and so forth.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 10:19:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/hc-dismisses-plea-challenging-order-of-wardha-collector/article33216255.ece

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