Team Anna to pay Rs 7 lakh for MMRDA ground

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 21:02

Ralegan Siddhi/Mumbai: Anna Hazare today
braced himself up for a three-day fast in Mumbai from December
27, forced to cough up about Rs seven lakh as rental for the
MMRDA ground after Bombay High Court rejected a petition
seeking free or discounted rates for the venue.

74-year-old Hazare, who will undertake the fast to
protest against a "weak" Lokpal bill, said he will organise
the rental amount through donations from people whose
background will be checked.

Team Anna got the rough end of the stick from Bombay High
Court when a two-member Bench asked, "under which law are you
(petitioner) asking for exemption. It might be satyagraha for
you but for some other faction it might be a nuisance."

Justices P B Majumdar and Mridula Bhatkar said the court
cannot direct the government to open the gates to the enclosed
area in Azad Maidan, another venue Team Anna had planned for
the proposed fast.
In the wake of strictures from the court, Hazare said it
was wrong on the part od supporters to approach the court
seeking concession for the venue. If they had sought his
opinion, he would not have allowed them to seek judicial
intervention, he said.

After the authorities rejected permision to use the
ground free because India Against Corruption was not a
registered organisation, Team Anna would be seeking permission
in the name of one of the registered NGOs.
The concessional rate would be around Rs seven lakh for
three days against the full rate of over Rs 11 lakh.

"MMRDA will give some concessions and the ground hire
cost will be Rs 7 lakh. The donations will be accepted only by
cheque and draft. We will also keep tab on the donors," Hazare
said in Ralegan Siddhi.

He said his close aides Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi
will join him in his fast in Mumbai while another group of
activists will go on hunger strike in Delhi in support for
a strong Lokpal bill.
The Court came down heavily on Team Anna`s agitation
plans on Lokpal Bill, saying it can`t allow "parallel
canvassing" when Parliament is debating the issue, observing
that what may be a "satyagraha" for the group could be a
"nuisance" for others.

The two-member bench said it cannot ask government
authorities (MMRDA) to grant exemption to Jagrut Nagrik Manch,
affiliated to Hazare`s India Against Corruption.
The court also said it cannot come to the conclusion if
the agitation was in public interest or politically motivated.
"We can`t allow parallel canvassing when Parliament is
seized with debate on the bill. You can propagate the bill
sitting at home. Till now the bill has not been passed. No one
knows what form and what features it will have. Is public
debate permissible at this stage?," the court asked.

Disapproving of the agitation despite the Lokpal Bill
being tabled in Parliament, Justice Majmudar asked, "How is
country`s interest involved? We are a democratic set up. We
have elected a government. Wouldn`t your agitation interfere
in the functioning of Parliament? The bill will be debated in
Parliament where our elected representatives will plead our
case".

When the counsel for the petitioner informed the court
that they have got permission for holding the fast in Delhi`s
Ramlila Maidan, the court said, "If Ramlila Ground is
available, why don`t you hold fast there."
"We are afraid that such issues cannot be decided by
the court. This court cannot come to the conclusion as to
whether this agitation is in public interest or politically
motivated," it observed.

"It cannot be said that the petitioners have undertaken
a national event for the MMRDA to exempt them from rent for
the ground," Justice Majmudar said.
"It(the petition) is not judicable. If we pass an order
allowing your petition then even we will be interfering with
the functioning of Parliament," the court further said.
The court said another ground for rejecting the plea
was that the petitioner was not a registered social
organisation, a mandatory requirement for seeking concession
from MMRDA.

When Mahendra Ghelani, advocate for the petitioner,
told the court that they would file another application to
MMRDA through a registered organisation, the court said they
could do that and the state-run body shall consider it on
merit and according to their discretion.
The state government had earlier informed the court
that the deputy director of Sports and Youth Welfare Services
department had refused to open the gates to the enclosed area
in Azad Maidan as it would ruin the 22 pitches on the ground.
The court had asked Maharashtra government to inform
whether it was ready to open the gates at Azad Maidan, the
second option available for Hazare to hold the fast.

CBI officials are of the view that the "process of
investigation, right from registration of FIR till filing of
police report, is one single continuous process and
prerogative of only the police, integrity of which needs to be
protected at all times to ensure quality and fair probe".

The senior officials are of the view that CBI could give
a status report to the Lokpal and CVC on the outcome of
investigation in respect of Lokpal and CVC referred matters as
is being done in cases referred to CBI by courts.

They said that a provision can be incorporated to the
effect that no court shall take cognisance of any charge sheet
against a public servant in a case referred by Lokpal or CVC,
except with the previous sanction of the Lokpal or CVC.

The agency wants Section 6A of DSPE Act must be repealed
with Section 23 (1) of the Lokpal Act which provides for
functional autonomy for registration and initiation of
prosecution is applicable only to for Lokpal referred cases.
"For cases taken up suo-motu by the CBI, the existing
requirement of prior permission under section 6A of DSPE Act
remains unchanged. The act needs to be amended to repeal this
provisions, as this is one of the major impediments in
pursuing investigations against public servants holding
positions of the rank of Joint Secretary and above," said an
official of the agency.

The agency wants that the timelimit for completion of
Lokpal referred cases should be increased as present limit of
six months is "unrealistic" because of complicated and
voluminous nature of cases, stay on investigation by courts,
probe abroad ?- delay in execution of Letters Rogatory, delay
in getting expert opinions, delays due to absconding accused
persons etc.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 20:46

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