The court also issued a suo motu contempt notice against police commissioner of Kolkata for not complying with its earlier order on RSS’ application for permission.
After police refused permission, the Calcutta high court on Friday allowed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to hold a programme, which is to be attended by its supremo Mohan Bhagwat, in Kolkata on Saturday but with some conditions.
Justice Joymalyo Bagchi said the programme scheduled to be held from 2 pm to 6 pm can be held at Brigade Parade Ground in the heart of the city subject to some restrictions including a cap of 4,000 on the number of attendees.
The Kolkata police had refused permission to the organisers to hold the programme, both for an earlier venue of Bhukailash Park in the western part of the city and Brigade Parade Ground.
Expressing displeasure at the Commissioner of Kolkata Police Rajeev Kumar not complying with its earlier order with regard to the RSS’ application for permission to hold the programme, Justice Bagchi also issued a suo motu contempt notice against him.
The petitioners while challenging the police refusal submitted before the court that Makar Sankranti Utsav is an annual event and is organised on a specific date and cannot be postponed as suggested by Advocate General Jayanta Mitra.
The petitioners’ counsel Anindya Mitra also submitted that the organisers had already taken permission of the army, which is the custodian of the Maidan area where the Brigade Parade Ground is situated.
Specifying the restrictions, Justice Bagchi directed that the organising secretary, Kolkata Mahanagar unit of the RSS, which is holding the programme where drills and other activities would be held with the participation of Mohan Bhagwat, would have to give an affidavit before the court that no person without proper registration and identity card be allowed to attend the programme.
The organisers would have to give an undertaking to the court as also the Kolkata police authorities to bear the cost of any unruly behaviour by any person related to the programme.
The court also said the police might remove any person who was not an invitee and would also have to ensure adequate deployment of force to ensure maintenance of law and order.
Justice Bagchi directed that the organisers would have to furnish the names of all attendees to the court and the police.
On the contempt notice against the Police commissioner, Justice Bagchi directed him to explain his conduct with regard to the contempt proceedings within two weeks.
Justice Bagchi had on January 11 directed the CP to consider the application of RSS for permission to hold a function at Bhukailash Park or at Brigade Parade Ground within 24 hours and communicate the decision to the organisers.
The decision not to allow the programme, scheduled to be held on January 14, was, however, communicated by a joint commissioner of police.
Expressing his displeasure, Justice Bagchi said that the rules of business of state do not override or abrogate the court’s order.
Observing that the act was an example of bureaucratic insolence, Justice Bagchi said that the CP was fully aware of the order passed by the court, but had failed to carry it out.
Holding that it was a wilful and deliberate act, Justice Bagchi suo motu issued contempt against the commissioner.
IMAGE: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters