April 15, 2021 10:15:53 pm
The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to reschedule its virtual Standing Committee meeting – scheduled for Thursday – to Friday after two panel members approached the court seeking a physical meeting to discuss 35 issues on which voting can be held virtually.
However, in view of the spike in Covid-19 cases in Mumbai and restrictions imposed by the state government, the high court said that while it can function virtually, the meeting could also be held through video conference and disposed the plea.
The Standing Committee is a statutory body that approves and allocates funds required for various projects or works carried out by the BMC.
A vacation bench of Justice Suresh C Gupte and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a public interest litigation filed by two BJP members Vinod Mishra and Makarand Narwekar, seeking to challenge BMC’s proposal to hold the standing committee meeting on April 15 through video conferencing.
Advocate Jeet Gandhi, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that 27 members of the committee and concerned BMC officials be allowed to conduct physical meeting by following Covid-19 protocols as at least 35 issues were on agenda. He added that physical documents are required to be circulated and there are chances that the agenda will be passed with a brute majority through virtual voting.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare argued that as the government has stated that no more than 25 people can gather for weddings and other purposes, the panel meeting cannot be held physically.
After the court asked if the meeting could be held virtually on Friday, Sakhare replied in the affirmative after taking instructions from chairman of the panel and BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.
Disposing the petition, the bench noted, “The petitioners should be permitted to effectively attend meeting and place submissions before the meeting, inter alia by producing scanned documents for consideration. Petitioners will also be entitled to record the entire proceedings of the April 16 meeting. We have not applied our mind to the merits of controversy raised by the petitioners.”
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