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SC Refuses to Entertain BJP Plea Challenging Ban on Loudspeakers in West Bengal

BJP's counsel said use of loudspeakers were necessary for holding rallies and 'rath yatras'.

New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday refused to entertain a plea of the West Bengal BJP seeking to overturn the 2013 ban enforced by the Mamata Banerjee government on the use of loudspeakers in the state between February and March due to the 10th and 12th board examinations.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan and Justice Sanjiv Khanna expressed unwillingness to allow the plea, leading senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi to withdraw it.

“Counsel for the petitioner seeks leave of this court to withdraw the writ petition. The writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” the court said.

At the outset, the bench questioned the move of the party to assail the order saying “You are challenging an order of 2013?”

“Yes, but it is applied every year,” the lawyer said, adding that the apex court had recently allowed the party to move the state government afresh to seek permission to hold ‘rath yatra’ and without the use of the loudspeakers, they (rath yatra) would be of no value.

“We are not saying that you are coming late,” the bench said, adding that children are also writing their board examinations.

Rohatgi said the freedom of speech and expression of the party was also an important issue and use of loudspeakers were necessary for holding rallies and ‘rath yatras’.

As the court was inclined to dismiss the plea, the counsel offered to withdraw it, which was allowed.

The court also did not allow the plea of Rohatgi that the party be allowed to approach the Calcutta High Court on the issue, saying “If you want to withdraw, withdraw it. But we are not giving any liberty to approach the High Court.”

Earlier, BJP had come to the apex court alleging that the state, which has allowed its rallies, has denied permission to hold ‘rath yatras’ on the ground that there were fears of communal tension in the state.

The apex court had said that the party would have to seek fresh approval for holding ‘rath yatras’ from the state authorities.

The top court had also asked the authorities to decide on the plea of BJP keeping in mind the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of the party.

Also read: Mamata Banerjee Opposes Citizenship (Amendment) Bill; Says There’s No Question of Supporting It

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