In Guwahati, it is common experience to find road space being used for wedding receptions, sacred thread ceremonies, shraddhs, musical extravaganzas and felicitation programmes. One is at a loss to discover which administrative authority could have granted permission for such unlawful use of any public thoroughfare. The closure of a section of a public road for private use constitutes a serious breach of the law, since a part of a public thoroughfare is blocked to the public. Such blocking of a public road (even for a day) is a serious breach of the law, since it prevents the public using a part of a road that is public property. Such a provision, that would be regarded as a serious retraction of the right of the people to use a public thoroughfare, is a serious violation of the law. Yet, such misuse of public roads is taking place in a city like Guwahati all the time. No one seems to be aware of the identity of the official authorized by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to grant permission to legalize such a patently illegal act. And now it is the turn of the different puja committees of the city to make the law a casualty of so-called public convenience. Several puja committees have chosen to use parts of public thoroughfares as domains of the committee organizers and have closed the sections of the roads to public traffic. And since this is seen as a public demand, the GMC is only too eager to pretend that such demands have to be conceded. This is something that is not countenced anywhere in the world except in crowded Kolkata. But we cannot permit the aberrations of Kolkata during the puja season to determine the norms for Guwahati. It is a clear case of not allowing two wrongs to make a right. Finding excuses for letting the people wink at the law is certainly not the best way of looking after either our laws or our citizens.
Wrong Use of Road Space