The Bombay High Court last week had directed the State Election Commission (SEC) not to declare civic elections till June 12 for the four wards in Mumbai suburbs whose corporators have been disqualified for not providing sufficient evidence to prove their castes.
The directions were passed by a vacation bench of Justice A S Gadkari and Justice N J Jamadar, while hearing four petitions filed by Shiv Sena candidates Sandip Naik, Eknath Hundare and Geeta Bhandari and Congress’s Nitin Salagre — the runners-up in the Mumbai civic polls in 2017. The petitioners are seeking directions to quash and set aside the SEC notification that calls for bypolls on the four seats. The SEC had earlier issued a notification calling for bypolls on the seats.
On Thursday, counsel for the SEC informed the court that the notification for preparation of voters’ list has been published, but the programme for conducting election in the four wards has not yet been declared.
The bench said, “In view thereof, the Election Commission is permitted to proceed with the preparation of voters’ list. However, the notification declaring elections in the wards in question shall not be published up to 12th June, 2019.”
The SEC’s May 9 notification was published after the Supreme Court recently dismissed the petitions of BJP corporators Kesharben Patel and her husband Murji Patel, and Congress corporator from Kandivali (East) Rajpat Yadav, challenging a high court verdict that upheld a Caste Scrutiny Committee’s order disqualifying them for not providing “sufficient evidence” to prove their caste. Murji Patel represented Andheri East.
Earlier, in December 2018, Congress corporator Steffi Kini from Manori, Malad West, was disqualified by the high court for the same reason.
The four petitions, filed by the runners-up candidates, stated that after the civic poll results were declared in 2017, they had immediately filed petitions before the Small Causes Court challenging the election of the respective elected corporators of four wards, mainly on the ground that they are not entitled to contest elections from wards that were reserved for backward classes. These four petitions are pending before the Small Causes Court. The four petitioners had sought interim relief before the vacation bench seeking stay on the notification till the case is pending before the Small Causes Court. The petitioners are also seeking directions to the Small Causes Court to expedite the proceedings in the case.