The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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People prop for rally raj rollback

If the supporters of rally raj can take to the streets in protest, those opposed to it can do their bit to back the bid to restrict the right to disrupt normal life.

A city-based non-government organisation (NGO) is poised to file a case in Calcutta High Court, seeking permission to be an “added party” in the restrict-rally case. The NGO, Right to Live, will stand by the order passed by Justice Amitava Lala banning rallies and meetings on city streets between 8 am and 8 pm on working days.

Subroto Mookherjee, advocate for Right to Live, told Metro on Monday he would move the regular bench of the high court once it reopens after the Puja vacation on October 27.

Mookherjee said his client would not allow the government to represent its case ex-parte while challenging Justice Lala’s order before a division bench. “Someone must be present (before the division bench) to support the views taken by Justice Lala to establish the right of the people of the city to move freely on the roads,” he stressed.

Right to Live members had gone from one pandal to the other during the Pujas, asking Calcuttans what they thought of Justice Lala’s judgment. Around 85 per cent, Mookherjee said, supported the court move and felt that a restriction on rallies must be imposed “for the betterment of all sections of society” and “the prosperity of the city”.

Only 15 per cent felt that the order curbed the rights of a citizen. “And so we decided to join the issue in court in support of Justice Lala,” explained Mookherjee.

Supradip Roy, the advocate who had initiated a similar matter in the high court three years ago, has also joined the fray. Roy said: “In June 2000, responding to a petition filed by me, the division bench, presided over by Chief Justice A.K. Mathur, had directed the government to constitute a committee to chalk out a scheme to ban rallies on working days. Three years have passed, but the government has not taken any steps to carry out the order of the court.” He also said he would demand initiation of contempt proceedings against the government on this count.

Six lawyers of Calcutta High Court have decided to be a party to the case, individually, to oppose the government move to obtain a stay on Justice Lala’s judgment. Two advocates, Kallol Guha and Pradip Sanchiti, told Metro they, too, had been held up by the rally on September 23. “Important cases were called and rejected due to our absence in court. So, we have decided to file individual applications,” they said.

nMore reports on Page 19

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