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Bombay HC dismisses BJP councillors’ plea against ordinance increasing BMC seats

The Maharashtra government had, in an ordinance, notified the increase of seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from 227 to 236 after the proposal was cleared by Governor B S Koshyari.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: January 17, 2022 7:35:35 pm
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The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a plea by two BJP councillors challenging the Maharashtra government’s November 30 ordinance which notified the increase of nine seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

A division bench of Justices A A Sayed and Abhay Ahuja was hearing a plea by BJP councillors Abhijit Samant and Rajeshree Shirwadkar challenging the state Urban Development Department’s notification increasing the number of seats in the BMC from 227 to 236 after the proposal was cleared by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

On Monday, the bench asked the petitioners if they were seeking a stay on the upcoming BMC election, to which they responded in the negative. “We are dismissing the petition,” Justice Sayed then said.

The petitioners, through senior advocate Veerendra Tulzapurkar, had said that the ordinance is based on the 2011 Census and as these figures were over 10 years old, amending the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act on their basis was illegal.

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Responding to the contention that the number of councillors was increased without any “quantifiable data or latest census population data available”, the state government said the same was proportional to an increase in the population. The government called the grounds raised in the plea “unjust, arbitrary, mala fide and politically motivated” and said the ordinance was promulgated after following due legislative process.

Arguing for the government, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni argued that the plea was filed on frivolous grounds and should be dismissed with heavy costs for wasting the court’s time.

Senior advocate Anil Sakhare for the BMC concurred with the state’s submissions and said that the increase in the number of seats was intended to better manage the issues of the city’s large population and as the petitioners were not directly aggrieved by the decision, the plea be dismissed.

The State Election Commission (SEC) too sought that the plea be dismissed and said that it had put in place a schedule to conduct the elections within the time mandated and any further deviation from it will only jeopardise and delay the election process.

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