The Calcutta High Court on Friday granted permission to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) to hold a rally at the Brigade Parade Ground on January 14, which is  expected to be attended by the outfit’s chief Mohan Bhagwat. The RSS had on Wednesday said it would appeal against the police’s decision in the high court.

The court’s permission comes with certain conditions. It said the rally should be attended only by invitees and not outsiders. The rally should be held between 2 pm and 6 pm. The court also said adequate police deployment should be made at the venue.

Specifying the restrictions, Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed that the organising secretary, Kolkata Mahanagar unit of 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 and also the Kolkata Police authorities to bear the cost of any unruly behaviour by any person related to the programme scheduled to be held from 2 PM to 6 PM tomorrow.

The court  also directed that 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.
The organisers had initially sought permission from the police to hold the programme at Bhukailash Park in the western part of the city, which had been refused on the ground that roads leading to the park were narrow and that there would not be adequate space for around 5,000 people as proposed by the organisers.

It was also said that as Bhagwat enjoys Z-plus category security, it would not be advisable to hold the meeting there owing to security perceptions.

The organisers had then approached the court seeking direction to the police to allow them to hold the function there or alternatively at Brigade Parade Ground. Justice Bagchi had on January 11 directed the commissioner of Kolkata Police to consider their application within 24 hours and communicate its decision to the organisers.

The police said that owing to the ongoing Gangasagar Mela for which a transit camp was set up at Babughat at the other end of the Maidan and also because of deployment of force for that purpose, it would be not be possible to give permission to the event at Brigade Parade Ground.

Following the refusal, the petitioners moved the court again today seeking permission to hold the rally at either Bhukailash or Brigade Parade Ground.

Passing the order, Justice Bagchi observed that the crux of the reason for refusal of permission is congregation of pilgrims for Gangasagar, but there has been no application of mind to the fact that attendance to the programme is by invitation only. He also observed that adequacy of space at Brigade Parade Ground was not an issue.

The court  points out that during Durga Pujas many pandals are erected in the city and many stand cheek by jowl, but permission is granted to all these pujas.

Justice Bagchi observed that reasons cited by the authorities for declining permission were vague and non-specific in nature.

The high court quashed the order of police authorities denying permission for the RSS programme not only on the ground that it was not in consonance with its order of January 11 but also on merits.