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In a setback to Team Anna, the Bombay high court on Friday rejected its petition for direction to the Maharashtra government for allotting MMRDA ground for free or at concessional rates for Anna Hazare's fast, saying it cannot come to the conclusion if the agitation was in public interest or politically motivated.
The court also said it cannot direct the government to open the gates to the enclosed area in Azad Maidan, another probable venue for the proposed 3-day fast from December 27, to allow Team Anna larger space for the protest.
"We are afraid that such issues cannot be decided by the court. This court cannot come to the conclusion as to whether this agitation is in public interest or politically motivated," a division bench of Justices P B Majmudar and Mridula Bhatkar observed while rejecting the petition filed by Jagrut Nagrik Manch, an affiliate of Hazare's India Against Corruption.
"It cannot be said that the petitioners have undertaken a national event for the MMRDA to exempt them from rent for the ground," Justice Majmudar said.
The court said another ground for rejecting the plea was that the petitioner was not a registered social organisation, a mandatory requirement for seeking concession from MMRDA.
When Mahendra Ghelani, advocate for the petitioner, told the court that they would file another application to MMRDA through a registered organisation, the court said they could do that and the state-run body shall consider it on merit and according to their discretion.