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Rallies, meetings inseparable part of Bengal's culture just as luchi, mishti doi: HC Chief Justice

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Kolkata, Mar 14 (PTI) Observing that public rallies and meetings are an inextricable part of Bengal's culture just as delicacies such as 'mishti doi', 'luchi' and 'alu posto', the Calcutta High Court on Thursday allowed a march by a state government employees' organisation.

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'Luchi' (deep-fried flatbread made of maida flour), 'mishti doi' (sweet curd), and 'alu posto' (potatoes cooked in poppy seeds paste) are gastronomic delights of Bengal.

Refusing to interfere in a single bench order that allowed the rally on Thursday to state secretariat Nabanna by the State Coordination Committee, an organisation representing a section of West Bengal government employees, a division bench presided by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam directed that they will hold the rally in a single file and will not obstruct traffic movement.

"Among other things, mishti doi, luchi and alu posto are an inextricable part of the Bengal culture, so are, it appears, public rallies, meetings, etc are also part of this culture," the Chief Justice observed.

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Every Bengali is a born orator, he said, adding that it is a state filled with culture and heritage.

Allowing the march, the court observed that rallies and protests passing through the arterial roads of Kolkata or the neighbouring districts, including those organised by political parties, have caused immense inconvenience to the public at large.

"It is high time the organisers devise alternative ways and means to voice their grievances, rather than taking to the roads," the court observed.

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Opposing the march allowed by a single bench, the West Bengal government moved an appeal before the division bench claiming that no rally or procession is allowed in and around Nabanna, as prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been promulgated in the area.

The government also submitted that the entire route of the proposed rally from Howrah launch ghat to Nabanna bus stand is a very congested area.

The police had denied permission to hold the rally and said it may consider an alternative route from Howrah launch ghat to Howrah Maidan, state Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted.

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The State Coordination Committee representing a section of West Bengal government employees wanted to hold the rally on Thursday demanding implementation of dearness allowance (DA) at par with central government employees.

Senior counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, appearing for the employees' organisation, submitted that peaceful demonstration is a fundamental right that the state cannot curtail.

The bench, also comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, said that the police in Kolkata and adjoining places are well-equipped to handle numerous rallies on a single day.

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The court noted that the organisers have undertaken to hold the rally peacefully.

The bench directed that the march has to be in a single line and should not stagnate at a particular place blocking movement of vehicular traffic and also restricting the number of participants to the barest minimum possible.

The march by members of the State Coordination Committee was held on Thursday afternoon. PTI AMR NN

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