Setting aside the denial of permission by the state government, the single-judge bench had on Thursday allowed the 'yatra' while noting that courts can interfere if administrative authorities exercise their discretionary powers in a whimsical manner.
 
Following the court order, the BJP had come up with tentative new dates for its proposed three-phase programme starting December 28.
 
After today's order, there is uncertainty once again over the mega event that was to cover all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.
 
The high court will go on a 10-day winter vacation from Saturday and will reopen on Januray 2.
 
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HC quashes permission for BJP's West Bengal Rath Yatra
HC quashes permission for BJP's West Bengal Rath Yatra

HC quashes permission for BJP's West Bengal Rath Yatra


Kolkata: The BJP's proposed 'Rath Yatra' in West Bengal hit a roadblock again on Friday with a division bench of the Calcutta High Court quashing a single bench order that had given a go-ahead to the ambitious roadshow of the saffron party.
 
The division bench also asked the single-judge bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty to hear the case afresh to consider intelligence inputs by state agencies and dispose the matter expeditiously.
 
Hearing a plea by the state government that there are apprehensions of communal unrest due to the roadshow proposed to be undertaken by the BJP across the state, the division bench of Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar has asked the single judge bench to pass a fresh order after considering whether there were adequate materials to arrive at the conclusion to allow the 'yatra'.
 
The 'Rath Yatra', which was originally scheduled to be flagged off by BJP president Amit Shah on December 7 but was denied permission by the state government, has become the latest political flashpoint between the saffron party and the state's ruling Trinamool Congress.
 
The division bench said the order needs to consider afresh the 36 intelligence inputs submitted by the state government before the single bench.
 
Advocate General Kishore Dutta, representing the state, said that the single bench had not considered the intelligence inputs submitted to it in a sealed cover and had returned it to him without even opening it.
 
He had submitted intelligence inputs from 31 police districts and five police commisionerates before the bench, which he said talked about apprehensions of communal unrest if the BJP's proposed roadshows were allowed.
 
After hearing an appeal by the BJP, the single-judge bench had on Thursday allowed the mega event. The West Bengal government, however, challenged the ruling before the division bench, which has now quashed the earlier ruling and sent the case back to the single-judge bench.
 
The chief justice's bench noted that the intelligence reports were placed before the single bench, but were not considered on objection by petitioner BJP.
 
The division bench said that when comprehensive reports obtained from district magistrates, superintendents of police, commissioners and intelligence agencies of all the districts were made available, the single bench should have
considered those.
 
Appearing for the state director general of police (DGP) and additional DGP (Law and Order), counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted that total prohibition or ban has not been imposed on the activities of the BJP and permission for meetings have not been denied to it.
 
He said that while rallies have not been refused permission, the 'yatra' have been disallowed for reasons including possibility of communal unrest, logistical problems like blockade of highways through which it will pass and requirement of large number of security personnel for nearly 39 days, during which it will be held.
 
Singhvi submitted that it is the apprehension of provocative and inflammatory ambience of the 'yatra' that has led to the refusal of permission to it.
A rally being a one-spot event, the police has not barred these as security aspects can be better taken care of, he submitted.
 
BJP's counsel S K Kapur submitting that the party is amenable to a revised schedule if the court suggested so, said the 'yatra' is a political programme and it is an inalienable right of a political party to hold rallies and
processions.
 
He alleged that it is a policy decision of the state government not to allow political programmes of the BJP.
 
He said though the advocate general has claimed that 2,100 political rallies have been allowed in the state since 2017, there are numerous instances of meetings of Shah, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and many other leaders being denied permission by the state government.
 
"A BJP-led government is at the Centre for four-and-half years and if it is so that the party is communal, then there would have been conflagration in the whole country," he submitted.
 
Setting aside the denial of permission by the state government, the single-judge bench had on Thursday allowed the 'yatra' while noting that courts can interfere if administrative authorities exercise their discretionary powers in a whimsical manner.
 
Following the court order, the BJP had come up with tentative new dates for its proposed three-phase programme starting December 28.
 
After today's order, there is uncertainty once again over the mega event that was to cover all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.
 
The high court will go on a 10-day winter vacation from Saturday and will reopen on Januray 2.
 



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