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‘Ensure routes are changed…If there are law and order problems, you will face problems’: Bombay HC on Ram Navami rallies route outside mosques

"Ensure that routes are changed. Ultimately, if there is a law and order problem, you'll face problems..." the bench observed over Ram Navami processions that traverse through roads dotted with mosques.

The Bombay High Court on April 15 emphasised to the police the importance of maintaining law and order during the upcoming Ram Navami rally in the Malad-Malwani area, which is home to a significant Muslim population.

The bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande noted this concern after it was raised that the organizers of the Ram Navami rally might intentionally pass through areas inhabited by the minority community.

Additionally, the Court was briefed about previous incidents where speeches were made outside mosques during prayer times, reminiscent of the events that led to the Mira Road violence in January 2024.

It was pointed out that the Malad-Malwani area experienced riots during last year’s Ram Navami procession as well.

During the proceedings, the Bench addressed Advocate General Dr. Birendra Saraf, stating,

“Ensure that routes are changed. Ultimately, if there is a law and order problem, you’ll face problems…” the bench observed.

Saraf assured the Bench that the police would exercise extra caution.

“The Bench has inquired with the highest officer, and they (the police) will carry out their duties responsibly,” he said.

In the course of the hearing, the Court expressed its inability to halt any public rally. However, it expressed the hope that in the event of a breach of law and order, the police would act promptly.

“We cannot prevent any public rally. But we expect your officers will take appropriate action by the law if there is any breach, regardless of the political party involved. In another case, we had granted permission (to MLA T Raja Singh) to hold the rally in Maharashtra on the assurance that there would be no breach. Despite this, an FIR had to be lodged. If there is any breach of the law, action should be taken. If they do not take action, then we will ask the police to file an affidavit.”

The Court was hearing a petition filed by five Mumbai residents, including two victims of the Mira Road violence, alleging that no case had been registered by the police against Maharashtra BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane and Geeta Jain, and Telangana MLA T Raja Singh for alleged hate speeches during the Mira Road violence in January 2024.

The petition also noted that Rane had visited other suburbs such as Govandi and Malvani and delivered more hate speeches.

On April 9, the Court directed the Commissioners of Police (CPs) of Mumbai and Mira-Bhayander and Vasai-Virar (MBVV) to personally review videos of the leaders’ speeches and make an appropriate decision.

Saraf informed the Court today that the CPs of Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, and Vasai-Virar would decide within a week whether FIRs for hate speech should be filed against the concerned leaders.

The Court also asked Saraf to personally review the speeches and advise the Police if necessary, adding that when action is initiated, it should be carried through to its conclusion.

“If the speaker says something that breaches the law, then action can be taken. If the organisers and speakers do not exercise restraint, then the law will take its own course,” the Court remarked.

The next hearing for the matter has been scheduled for April 23.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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