Anna Hazare has made it clear that he will go ahead with his 3 day fast in Mumbai from 27th Dec at MMRDA ground for which he will organise the Rs.7 lakh rent through donations as the Bombay High Court rejected a petition seeking discounted rates for the protest venue.
“MMRDA will give some concessions and the ground hire cost will be Rs 7 lakh. The donations will be accepted only by cheque and draft. We will also keep tab on the donors,” he said in Ralegan Siddhi on Friday.
Hazare said his close aides Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi will join him in his fast in Mumbai while another group of activists will go on hunger strike in Delhi in support for a strong Lokpal bill.
The court further said that it cannot come to the conclusion if the agitation was in public interest or politically motivated.
The court also said it cannot direct the government to open the gates to the enclosed area in Azad Maidan, another probable venue for the proposed 3-day fast from 27th December to allow Team Anna larger space for the protest.
“We are afraid that such issues cannot be decided by the court. This court cannot come to the conclusion as to whether this agitation is in public interest or politically motivated,” a division bench of Justices P B Majmudar and Mridula Bhatkar observed on Friday while rejecting the petition filed by Jagrut Nagrik Manch, an affiliate of Hazare’s India Against Corruption.
“It cannot be said that the petitioners have undertaken a national event for the MMRDA to exempt them from rent for the ground,” Justice Majmudar said.
The court said another ground for rejecting the plea was that the petitioner was not a registered social organisation, a mandatory requirement for seeking concession from MMRDA.
When Mahendra Ghelani, advocate for the petitioner, told the court that they would file another application to MMRDA through a registered organisation, the court said they could do that and the state-run body shall consider it on merit and according to their discretion.
The state government had earlier informed the court that the deputy director of Sports and Youth Welfare Services department had refused to open the gates to the enclosed area in Azad Maidan as it would ruin the 22 pitches on the ground.
Earlier in the day, Team Anna came in for scathing criticism by the court for its proposed agitation against the Lokpal Bill with the bench saying it cannot allow parallel canvassing when Parliament is seized with debate on the legislation.
“We can’t allow parallel canvassing when Parliament is seized with debate on the bill. You can propagate the bill sitting at home. Till now the bill has not been passed. No one knows what form and what features it will have. Is public debate permissible at this stage?,” the court asked.
Disapproving of the agitation despite the Lokpal Bill being tabled in Parliament, Justice Majmudar asked, “How is country’s interest involved? We are a democratic set up. We have elected a government. Wouldn’t your agitation interfere in the functioning of Parliament? The bill will be debated in Parliament where our elected representatives will plead our case”.
The court further said that as Judges they had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and law.
“Under which law are you (petitioner) asking for exemption? It might be Satyagraha for you but for some other factions it might be a nuisance,” it said.