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Bombay High Court Grants Conditional Approval for Kala Ghoda Arts Festival at Cross Maidan Amidst Ongoing Legal Battle

Introduction

In a significant development, the Bombay High Court has granted conditional permission to the Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) to conduct visual arts events and other performances at Cross Maidan in South Mumbai during the upcoming nine-day Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, scheduled to commence on January 20. The decision comes with certain riders to address concerns raised by the Organisation for Verdant Ambience and Land (OVAL), a public trust that had contested the commercial use of the ground.

Background

The legal proceedings stem from a writ petition initiated by OVAL in 2018, challenging a government resolution dated November 6, 2017. This resolution transferred the authority of maintaining Cross Maidan from the Mumbai city district collector to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Conditions Imposed by the High Court

The division bench, comprising Justices Gautam S Patel and Kamal R Khata, has outlined several conditions that the KGA must adhere to for the festival. The implementation of the court’s order is contingent upon an undertaking to be submitted by KGA, similar to the one provided in February 2018. Notably, no refreshment or commercial stalls will be allowed at Cross Maidan, and no part of the maidan shall be utilised for any commercial activity. All events conducted by KGA during the festival must be open to the public without any entry fee.

Restoration Requirement

The High Court emphasised that if any portion of the Cross Maidan public garden undergoes use during the festival, the KGA is obligated to restore it to its original condition after the conclusion of the event. This underscores the court’s commitment to preserving the sanctity of public spaces.

Future Permissions and Fee Considerations

Looking ahead, the court expressed openness to KGA seeking permission directly from the authorities in the future, without the need for court intervention. The court also allowed KGA to apply for a reduction or waiver in license fees, with the understanding that the authorities can consider such requests without specific court orders.

Separate Intervention for Other Entities

In the event that entities other than KGA seek permission for the use of any part of Cross Maidan, a separate intervention application must be submitted to the High Court by the concerned party. This ensures that the court remains apprised of and can regulate any potential commercial use of the public space.

Conclusion

While permitting the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival to proceed at Cross Maidan, the Bombay High Court has underscored the importance of strict compliance with the conditions laid down in its earlier orders. The final hearing and disposal of the main plea by OVAL are scheduled for next month, indicating that the legal battle over the use of Cross Maidan is far from concluded.

Feature Image Courtesy: lovemesk

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