The younger generation is teaching everyone how to protest peacefully, which makes their voice stronger, the Bombay high court said on Wednesday. The court was referring to protests against the recent attack on students at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla made the remark while hearing a petition filed by the NGO Wecom Trust on whether Shivaji Park at Dadar was a playground or a recreation ground. The petitioner maintains that the ground should not be permitted for any activity other than sports. The high court said that if the government, which is the trustee of the ground, feels that it can be used for other activities, then why should the court interfere. People cannot expect a court to function as a “watchman”, the bench said.

“Nowadays, members of civil society have started assembling and protesting peacefully and they have realised that this makes their voice stronger,” Justice Dharmadhikari said. “The younger generation is teaching us that. All the seniors should understand that.” Hundreds of students and activists had gathered at the Gateway of India from Sunday night onwards to protest against the attack on JNU students earlier that day.

On the petition before it, the high court said that people have to be reasonable in what they challenge. “If the ground is given for an activity involving children or senior citizens, then it is good. But if the ground is given for any state function or police parade then it is bad?” the court asked. The court had, in November 2019, while hearing the plea raised security concerns over the swearingin ceremony at Shivaji Park of Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister of Maharashtra.

The BMC on Wednesday told the court that neither it nor the police had received any complaint of breach of noise pollution rules after the ceremony. In 2010, the HC had declared the area as a ‘silence zone’ after the PIL was filed.

The court had then said that programmes can be held at the park only on December 6 (death anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar), May 1 (Maharashtra’s foundation day) and on January 26 (Republic Day). The state government and the BMC later carved out 45 days in a year to permit non-sporting activities on the ground. AGENCIES