The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the BMC to physically conduct its standing committee meeting on October 21, with 27 members and a dozen officials in the general body hall of the civic body following Covid-19 protocols.
The court also observed that by not conducting the physical meeting, the BMC would send a wrong signal to society that while it was doing so much to control Covid-19, it was hesitant to have physical meetings with social distancing norms.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni disposed of the PIL by two BJP corporators, who are members of the standing committee, seeking that the agenda of the October 21 meeting with nearly 674 proposals through videoconferencing be set aside.
The PIL moved by Makarand Narvekar and Prabhakar Shinde — also the group leader of BJP in the BMC — filed through advocate Jeet Gandhi alleged that the civic body’s intention is to pass all proposals with issues relating to lives of Mumbai residents without any discussion. It added that it is not possible to deliberate and pass these many resolutions in one day and that the same has not happened in the history of the BMC.
On Tuesday, the BJP corporators said that the proposals worth Rs 2,000 crore will be considered in a single day without any debate by the standing committee.
Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy and advocate Joel Carlos for committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav said that the apex body of the BMC holds meetings once in two to three weeks, however the last meeting was held on March 31 and thereafter it could not be held due to Covid-19 situation.
“There is an aggregated backlog of six months. Nearly 675 items are listed and no compulsion that same be dealt in one meeting. Matters will be taken up as per their serial numbers and those not dealt in this meeting can be taken up during the next or adjourned meeting,” Chinoy said.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare representing the BMC said that its commissioner on October 14 had written to the state urban development department seeking that standing committee meetings and other statutory meetings be permitted through physical hearing at the general body hall of the BMC, however the same was pending before the state government.
After hearing submissions, CJ Datta asked the BMC, “We appreciate the corporation’s efforts and it is working so much during Covid-19 pandemic. However, if corporation committees are not allowed physical meetings, what signal will it send to society?”
The court also said that since the total number of attendees would not exceed 50 persons as per state government’s guidelines during Covid-19, therefore it was permitting the BMC to conduct the physical meeting in ‘public interest.’
Disposing of the PIL, the court allowed the BMC to conduct physical meeting with nearly 27 members of the committee and 12 officials in the general body hall of the civic body and directed it to make arrangements so that all members will be able to attend the meeting on Wednesday.
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