The Bombay High Court raises security concern over Uddhav’s oath at Shivaji Park

 The Bombay High Court on Wednesday raised security concerns over the swearing-in ceremony of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister at Shivaji Park here, and said holding such functions at a public ground should not become a regular feature.

Henceforth, everyone will want to use the ground for such ceremonies, a division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla said while making it clear that the court is not saying anything about the oath-taking event.

Thackeray will be sworn in as chief minister of Maharashtra at the Shivaji Park in Dadar in central Mumbai on Thursday evening.

“We do not want to say anything about tomorrow’s ceremony…we are only praying that nothing untoward happens,” the court said while hearing a plea of NGO Wecom Trust on whether the Shivaji Park was a playground or a recreation ground.

“What will happen is that this (holding ceremonies) will become a regular feature and everyone will want to use the ground for such ceremonies,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

The court also raised concerns over the security aspect, saying lakhs of people will gather for the ceremony, scheduled for 6:40 pm on Thursday.

“You (authorities) have to also consider security aspect. You cannot put everybody’s lives at risk,” the court said.

“To prepare for the swearing-in ceremony to be held tomorrow, materials like chairs and bamboos to erect pandals will be brought in trucks this (Wednesday) evening. This means the park (ground) will not be available both today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) for the public use,” the court said.

The high court had in 2010 declared the area as a ‘silence zone’ after the PIL was filed by the NGO.

The court had then said that programmes can be held at the Shivaji Park only on December 6 (death anniversary of B R Ambedkar), May 1 (Maharashtra Foundation Day) and on January 26 (Republic Day).

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

The bench posted the petition for further hearing on December 12 and sought response from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the state government on its policies on allowing non-sporting activities at the Shivaji Park.

Fitness certificate to vehicle without independent test illegal: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court today said the Maharashtra government’s practice of issuing fitness certificates to private vehicles without conducting an independent test was illegal and in breach of its previous orders.

Therefore, the state government must take a decision on amending its rules and circulars on the issue and inform the court of its decision, a bench of justices A S Oka and R I Chagla said.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shrikant Karve, a Right to Information (RTI) activist from Pune.

Karve alleged that officials at various regional transport offices (RTOs) across the state had been granting fake fitness certificates, or registration certificates, to private as well as transport vehicles without subjecting the vehicles to mandatory fitness tests first.

On a previous hearing, another bench led by Justice Oka had held that since under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the registration of vehicles is treated as valid only if it had a valid certificate of fitness, such vehicles that did not have a fitness certificate must be deemed as unregistered, and thus, not permitted to be driven at all.

However, the court was informed recently that the Maharashtra government had been granting registration to new vehicles without the fitness certificate.

The state’s counsel, Abhinandan Vagyani, had told the court that this was being done since all new vehicles were already checked for fitness by the manufacturers before delivery.

The bench, however, held today that the state’s stand was contrary to provisions of the law, and hence, illegal.

A fitness certificate is an official document certifying that the holder’s vehicle is fit for being driven in public places.

As per the Motor Vehicles Act, a vehicle must have a fitness certificate issued by the manufacturer, and also, another fitness certificate issued by the state RTO authorities after the inspection of its condition, its pollution certificate, tax, insurance, and other such details.

“Since under the Act, the registration of vehicle is treated as valid only if it has valid certificate of fitness from the manufacturer and the inspecting authority, the state’s stand that a vehicle can be granted registration merely on the basis of the date of its manufacture is illegal,” the high court said.

“It (the state’s stand) is also in breach of the law and the previous orders of this court,” it further said.

The bench held that in granting new registration certificates without proper fitness certificates and merely on the basis of the manufacturers’ certificates, the state was harming the interest of several people.

The court has now directed the state to take a decision on amending its current practice in view of its observations, by April 25 this year.