The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State battles army for Brigade rights
- Court seeks papers establishing government claim

The battle between state and Union governments over the control of Brigade Parade Grounds continued on Friday, with the state challenging the defence ministry’s right to control the area before a bench presided over by Chief Justice A.K. Mathur.

State counsel Rabilal Moitra told the court that the government had enough documents to establish its right over Brigade Parade Grounds and oversee the law and order of the area. Last Friday, the army submitted a document before the court asserting its right to the grounds.

The division bench of Chief Justice Mathur and Justice A. Banerjee asked the state to produce its documents relating to the ground before the court, and fixed the matter for hearing on November 28.

The division bench was hearing the petition filed by environmental activist Subhash Dutta, pleading for an order directing the controlling authorities of Brigade Parade Grounds to make it a pollution-free zone and to put an end to all criminal activities there. Dutta alleged that hundreds of trees on the stretch of the Maidan had been destroyed and that the fairs and exhibitions were adding to air pollution.

The state government, Calcutta Police, the public works department and the army were respondents in the matter and were asked by the court to file affidavits. The army admitted to the petitioner’s allegations, agreeing that rallies and fairs should be stopped to make the Brigade a pollution-free zone.

The army also produced documents indicating the area was under its control, saying organisers of fairs and rallies should be asked to take its permission, rather than that of the police.

The government and the police had told the court earlier that the army had the authority to maintain the ground but it had no control over maintenance of law and order. The state did not agree with the army’s proposal to stop the rallies and fairs at the Brigade.

P.K. Roy and Uttam Majumdar, counsels for the army, told the court that until the government allowed the army to look after all matters, including law and order, it was impossible to improve conditions.

On Friday, the government counsel told the court that documents had been found to prove its claim to take administrative control of Brigade Parade Grounds.

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