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Youth teaching how to protest peacefully, it makes their voice stronger: Bombay HC

MUMBAI: The younger generation is teaching everyone how to protest peacefully, which makes their voice stronger, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday.

It was referring to the protests held by the students against the recent violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla made this remark while hearing a petition filed by NGO Wecom Trust on whether Shivaji Park at Dadar in central Mumbai was a playground or a recreation ground.

The petitioner has said the ground should not be permitted for any activity other than sports.

The court said if the government, which is the trustee of the ground, feels that it can be used for other activities then why should the court interfere.

People cannot expect the courts to function as a “watchman”, it said.

“Nowadays, members of the civil society have started assembling and protesting peacefully and they have realised that this makes their voice stronger,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

“The younger generation is teaching us that. All the seniors should understand that,” the judge said.

Several students and other activists had gathered at the Gateway of India in south Mumbai from Sunday (January 5) night to protest against the violence that erupted inside the JNU campus in Delhi.

The court said that people also have to be reasonable in what they challenge.

“If the ground is given for an activity involving children or senior citizens, then it is good. But if the ground is given for any state function or police parade then it is bad?” the court asked.

The high court had, in November 2019, while hearing the plea raised security concerns over the swearing-in ceremony of Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister of Maharashtra at the Shivaji Park.

The Brihabmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday told the court that neither it nor the police had received any complaint of breach of noise pollution rules after the ceremony.

In 2010, the HC had declared the area as a ‘silence zone’ after the PIL was filed.

The court had then said that programmes can be held at the park only on December 6 (death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar), May 1 (Maharashtra state foundation day) and on January 26 (Republic Day).

However, the state government and the BMC later carved out 45 days in a year to permit non-sporting activities on the ground.