Updated: August 5, 2021 8:58:19 am
The Bombay High Court has put on hold a Maharashtra government resolution (GR) announcing members of the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) for PMRDA, and directed that no decision should be taken on the objections and suggestions on the draft Development Plan for the metropolitan region until the next hearing.
In its GR on July 16, the state government had announced a list of 16 members and 15 special invitees for the MPC, including NCP MP Supriya Sule, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, Sena MP Shrirang Barne, Sena legislator Tanaji Sawant and Congress legislator Sangram Thopte. The committee was to be headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. However, the opposition BJP alleged that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had played politics in forming the committee by deliberately keeping BJP’s elected representatives out of it.
BJP corporators Deepak Pote, Jayant Bhave, Ajay Khedekar and Manjusha Nagpure had challenged the state government’s decision on constitution of the MPC in the High Court.
After hearing the counsels of the petitioners, as well as the state advocate general, the division bench of A A Sayed and Justice S G Dige stated, “In our prima facie view, the composition of the Pune Metropolitan Planning Committee is not in accordance with the mandate of Article 243-ZE of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the said Act. In as much as presently objections and suggestions are invited from public to the draft Development Plan (for metropolitan region), by way of ad-interim relief, we direct that the respondents shall not act in furtherance of the GR dated July 16, 2021, and no decision shall be taken on the objections and suggestions until the next date.”
The court has allowed the petitioners to amend the petition within three days and serve it to the respondents. The respondents – the state government, MPC and Pune Municipal Corporation – will have to file an affidavit with their response by August 11. The next hearing is on August 17.
The petitioners had sought the quashing of the GR and direction to the state government to constitute a MPC only in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Metropolitan Planning Committees Act. It had also sought directions restraining the MPC from taking any decision.
The petitioners said that as per Article 243-ZE of the Constitution, the MPC should have not less than two-thirds of the members elected by corporators of municipalities and chairpersons of panchayats in the metropolitan area, in proportion to the ratio between the population of municipalities and that of panchayats in the area.
Also, the Maharashtra Metropolitan Planning Committees Act, 1999, states that the MPC for every metropolitan area should have 45 members to prepare a draft development plan for the area. The petitioners pointed out that 30 members — two-thirds of the 45- member committee — are to be appointed to the MPC by and from among elected members of municipalities and chairpersons of panchayats. They pointed out that not a single elected member of the PMC has been appointed on the MPC, despite there being no impediment in appointing them.
The state government pointed out that the terms of previous members of the MPC, which was constituted in June 2016, had come to an end and the elections have been postponed on account of the pandemic. Due to the delay in the appointment of 30 members on the Committee through direct elections, the positions were kept vacant and 30 other members were appointed to the Committee, who are inter alia members of Parliament, or the Legislative Assembly or Council, and special invitee members, among others.
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