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Calcutta High Court upholds single-judge order, allows BJP to hold rally in Kolkata on November 29

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday permitted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to hold a rally 

on November 29 near Victoria House at Esplanade, the same place in central Kolkata where the ruling Trinamool Congress holds its annual ‘Shaheed Divas (Martyrs’ Day)’ rally on July 21.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya upheld the single bench order and dismissed the petition filed by the West Bengal government against it.

The High Court observed that the advisory said applications need to be made 2/3 weeks prior to the programme. Here, the application has been made 23 days prior. 

Noting that the advisory was not a statute, the Bench said the same cannot be taken as a rigid rule and that there was discretion vested with the authorities. 

It said procession meetings and rallies were regular features of the state of West Bengal and particularly Kolkata. Many instances were there where rallies have been held without any permission. There were instances where such rallies paralysed the city’s traffic and the police were unable to control the same.

On November 23, the West Bengal government had approached the High Court against the single-judge Bench judgement.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha of the High Court had pulled up the Kolkata Police on On November 20 for denying permission for the BJP rally at Kolkata twice without any apparent reason and by way of computer-generated responses. 

The Bench not only allowed the BJP to conduct the rally on November 29, but also made some negative observations about the denial of police permission on this count.

It observed that in an independent country, anyone had the freedom to go anywhere. The single-judge Bench further raised questions about the justification of denial of police permission for the same.

The November 29 mega rally was supposed to be attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The proposed rally of the BJP has been organised to highlight alleged irregularities by the state government in implementing the centrally-sponsored 100-day job scheme under MGNREGA.

Besides Shah, the party has also invited Union Minister of State for Rural Development Giriraj Singh and the State Minister Niranjan Jyoti.

(Case title: Jagannath Chattopadhyay vs State of West Bengal) 

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