HC dismisses BJP councillors' plea challenging Maha ordinance increasing BMC ward strength

PTI | Mumbai | Updated: 17-01-2022 16:33 IST | Created: 17-01-2022 16:18 IST
HC dismisses BJP councillors' plea challenging Maha ordinance increasing BMC ward strength
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The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a plea by two BJP councillors challenging a November 30 ordinance of the Maharashtra government increasing the ward strength of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) by nine from 227 to 236.

A bench of Justices A A Sayed and Abhay Ahuja was hearing the plea by BJP councillors Abhijit Samant and Rajeshree Shirwadkar challenging the notification issued by the Maharashtra urban development department.

The petitioners, through senior advocate Veerendra Tulzapurkar, argued the ordinance was illegal and arbitrary and was issued ahead of the BMC elections to benefit a certain political party.

The Maharashtra government, through Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, maintained the said change had been brought about to ensure the total number of seats in various municipal corporations and municipal councils was commensurate with the population increase in the respective areas.

The petitioners, however, told HC the state government had used 2011 Census data to increase the number of municipal wards in the city. The 2011 Census showed the city's population rose by 3.87 percent. The plea said the state government did not increase the number of corporators in 2011 and the current composition of the civic body has been unchanged since 2001.

It further said the state election commission, in 2016, used the 2011 Census to draw boundaries, reserve some existing wards for backward classes, Scheduled Tribes etc. but did not change the number of wards for the 2017 municipal elections.

Since the 2011 Census statistics had already been used for the 2017 elections and the number of wards was not changed at the time, they must now be changed only by using data from the next Census, the petitioners said. Kumbhakoni, however, said the petition had been filed on frivolous grounds and must be dismissed with heavy costs for wasting the court's time.

He added that, as per the 2011 census, the population in the area under BMC was 1.24 crore. There was an increase in population by 3.87 percent, and, therefore, the number of councilors increased was proportional to the population.

The State Election Commission submitted it had a schedule in place to conduct the elections, adding that any delays to this schedule must be avoided.

Senior advocate Anil Sakhare, appearing for the BMC, said the increase in the number of ward seats was intended to better manage the issues of the large population in the city. The HC then asked the petitioners if they were seeking a stay on the BMC elections, to which they responded in the negative. ''We are dismissing the petition and a detailed order will be made available in due course today," the bench said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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