|The pandal of Ekdalia Evergreen
Calcutta police on Friday moved the high court with a submission that Justice Sanjib Banerjee of the court had refused to hear their problems while allowing Durbar Mahila Samity to hold a puja on a road.
Justice Banerjee, however, is yet to pass any order on the plea of the Samity that it be allowed to erect a pandal at the crossing of Abinash Kabiraj Road and Masjid Bari Lane in north Calcutta.
The organisation, which works for the betterment of the living condition of sex workers, had moved the court against the denial of permission by the police to hold the puja at the crossroads.
After hearing both sides, Justice Banerjee had on September 17 ordered the city police commissioner to file a report by September 22 stating the rules his department was following while giving permission to road-hog pujas.
“How can the police move such an appeal when the trial court has not passed its final order?” a legal expert at Calcutta High Court asked.
The petition filed by the police states that the spot where the Samity wants to hold its puja is congested and the area is inhabited by people of several religions.
“A large number of sex workers live there. Lakhs of people regularly visit the area for various work. The area is very congested and multi-religious. If an organisation of a particular religion is allowed to block a road, others will make a similar demand,” the petition reads.
It also points out that the busy intersection of Jatindra Mohan Avenue and Rabindra Sarani would be out of bounds for commuters if the puja is allowed at the spot. “There will be no space for fire brigade engines to enter if the puja is allowed.”
The petition is likely to come up for hearing on September 23.
Lawyers in the high court not associated with the case said the appeal was a strategic move to shift the case from Justice Banerjee’s court.
While hearing the Samity’s plea on January 17, Justice Banerjee had referred to allegations of ministers acting like goons and organising pujas on roads.
“It has been alleged that ministers are behaving like goons and organising pujas by encroaching on roads,” the judge had said.
When the government pleader submitted that the police were only abiding by the high court guidelines while issuing or denying permission for pujas, the judge had wanted to know: “Tell me what is the guideline for (Ekdalia) Evergreen?” Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, the chief patron of Ekdalia Evergreen, said the pandal did not gobble up road space.