Other States

Calcutta High Court allows BJP’s ‘rath yatras’ in West Bengal

One of the vehicles for the BJP’s ‘rath yatra’

One of the vehicles for the BJP’s ‘rath yatra’   | Photo Credit: AP

Court sets aside State government's refusal on apprehensions of communal unrest.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday set aside the notification issued by the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal on December 15 and gave permission for the 'rath yatras' proposed by the State BJP.

The court observed that the threat to public order “must be real, not imaginary or a likely possibility” for denying permission to a political rally.

Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty allowed the BJP to organise three rallies under conditions such as informing the Superintendent of Police of the district concerned 12 hours before the entry of the yatra. The other conditions are abiding by traffic regulations, keeping the ecological impacts in mind and following every just direction given by the State administration.

Directive to police

While directing the police to deploy adequate security to ensure that there is no breach of law and order. Justice Chakraborty said the BJP would be vicariously liable for loss of lives or property. 

The court referred to arguments put forward by the State government about intelligence inputs from Cooch Behar, which suggested about a communal flare-up in the event of allowing a yatra.

Justice Chakraborty said "the BJP made petition before the State administration on October 29, 2018 and no intelligence inputs were called for after the first representation to the State government."

The court observed that it was surprising that when the writ petition on the issue came before it for hearing on December 6, letters pertaining to one particular district was brought up. No reason was given by the State on why letters of the BJP  seeking permission for yatras were not responded and only one criminal case was lodged in the Cooch Behar district on account of the disturbances, it said.  

Referring to the State government’s order, where  three senior officials denied permission to yatras after holding a meeting with BJP leaders, the court said that intelligence reports from several districts were made without specifying the districts. 

Justice Chakraborty said that when the proposed yatras were not for "unlawful purpose it cannot be totally prohibited unless there is eminent threat of breach of peace".

A ''rath yatra,'' which was scheduled to be flagged off by BJP president Amit Shah  on December 7 is being contested at the  Calcutta High Court since the start of the month. After the government did not respond to the BJP's request, the party approached the court. 

Aggrieved with the order of the single Bench, the BJP approached a Division Bench, which directed the State government officials and BJP leadership to discuss the matter on December 12, make the State government's  stand clear to the BJP by December 15. 

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 4:49:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/calcutta-hc-allows-bjps-rath-yatra-in-west-bengal/article25787849.ece

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