On 28 May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over a lavish programme to celebrate his two years in office.
The function organised at the India Gate in Delhi was beamed live via Doordarshan by almost all news channels, who decided to drop their scheduled programming in favour of showcasing the gala event sponsored by the central government.
While prime minister’s detractors criticised him for allegedly splashing more than Rs 1,000 crore on newspaper/TV/radio ads and hosting hours of non-stop musical event with the help of Bollywood stars, others accused him of showing little respect to the rule of law.
What was meant to be a five-hour long broadcast allegedly went beyond its scheduled time.
Soon, social media users began to tweet reminding Modi, who was present at the India Gate, that by continuing with the use of loudspeakers neyong 10 PM, he had been in violation of the Supreme Court order.
The Supreme Court in 2005 had ruled that the use of loudspeaker after 10 PM will no longer be permitted.
The Supreme Court verdict on noise pollution had said, “A loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the authority and the same shall not be used at night i.e. between 10.00p.m. and 6.00 a.m.”
But PM Modi’s speech using loudspeaker at the India Gate had gone well past 11 pm.
A new RTI reply has ‘confirmed’ that whilst Modi had permissionto host the event at the India Gate, there was no special permission for him to use the loudspeaker beyond 10 PM as required by the Supreme Court.
The RTI was filed by Monicka Vadera Poonawalla, whose husband, Tehseen Poonawalla was among those who had tweeted criticising the prime minister during the event accusing him of being in ‘contempt of Supreme Court.’
In her RTI request, Monica had asked, “Kindly provide documents if any special permission was granted to allow use of loudspeakers after 10.30 PM at the India Gate celebrations of the NDA government.”
In reply, the CPIO Rakesh Mittal said, “The information may be treated as Nil.”
Monica told jantakareporter.com that the prime minister was clearly in contempt of the SC order and she will now initiate a contempt of court proceedings against him soon.
She said, ” The SC guidelines very clearly states that there cannot be use of loud speakers beyond 10 pm. The government can make an exception for a religious or cultural programme but special permission needs to be taken which my RTI shows was not done in this case.
“Therefore it is a contempt of the Supreme Court order and we will be filing contempt of court proceedings against the prime minister and his government. In our country no matter how high and mighty you are, the law is above you and the PM not following the law while enjoying a two year gala party, at a time when the country suffers from a serious drought sends a very wrong message. The PM must remember he is not a king but a public servant bound by law.”