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Rediff.com  » News » Bombay HC allows anti-Jaitapur activists to enter district

Bombay HC allows anti-Jaitapur activists to enter district

November 14, 2011 21:11 IST
The Bombay high court on Monday allowed three anti-nuclear activists -- two of them former judges -- to enter Maharashtra's coastal Ratnagiri district, where a proposed atomic power plant is facing opposition.

Justice B G Kolse-Patil and Justice P B Sawant, former high court and Supreme Court Judges respectively, and activist Vaishali Patil had moved the HC, as district magistrate had barred their entry into the district.

Locals, environmentalists, as well as the Opposition parties, including Shiv Sena, are opposed to the mega power plant at Jaitapur on the ground that it is hazardous, especially in the light of nuclear crisis in Japan triggered by the March 11 tsunami and earthquake.

The magistrate had issued orders under the criminal procedure code prohibiting entry of Kolse-Patil, Sawant and Patil into the district in October, December 2010 and again in March 2011. Though the March order was for a short duration, they apprehended a similar order would be passed again.

The government lawyer cited the report filed by district superintendent of police, which contained statements of the petitioners at public meetings, where they dubbed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as "an agent of USA" and asked the people to court arrest in thousands.

The activists' counsel said they were entitled to voice opposition to the project, and the magistrate's order was "a straight violation of fundamental rights".

When Chief Justice Mohit Shah said even former President A P J Abdul Kalam has endorsed nuclear projects, the lawyer maintained his clients had right to oppose the Jaitapur plant.

Eventually, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi held that "petition has raised important issues about fundamental rights" and "case for relief has been made out."

The HC said the administration "shall not restrain" petitioners from entering the district, but for holding public meeting, they would have to apply to authorities.

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