Bombay HC Directs Advocate General to Submit Response for Plea Issues Notice Against Reduction of Wards Before BMC Elections

Savvy Thakur

Published on: 17 November 2022 at 20:53 IST

The Bombay HC issued a notice to the AG of State of Maharashtra, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni petition filed against the Act passed by the Eknath Shinde-led government reducing the number of directly elected councilors within the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) limits from 236 to 227.

At the outset, a bench composed of Justices GS Patel and Gauri Godse stated that notice to the Advocate General of the State of Maharashtra would be required because the plea was a constitutional challenge to an Act passed by the State.

Raju Pednekar, a former BMC councillor, challenged the cabinet’s ordinance in the plea filed by Nazneen Ichhaporia and Sunny Jain.

During today’s hearing, it was informed that the ordinance had been converted into an Act on September 8.

As a result, Pednekar was given permission by the bench to amend his petition and challenge the Act.

The petition is listed to be heard on November 30.

The petition noted that the Maharashtra government had increased the number of directly elected councillors by 9 in 2021, bringing the total to 236, in order to ensure that the increased population was adequately represented in BMC.

The High Court challenged this, which resulted in the dismissal of those petitions.

Based on the 2011 census, the High Court decided that the increase in councillors was proportional to the increase in population.

Interestingly, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had defended the previous administration’s decision to increase the number of councillors at that hearing.

After that, in June of this year, the government changed, and the new government overturned

the previous cabinet decision. The number of directly elected councillors returned to 227 under the new government headed by Eknath Shinde.

The government argued that the previous cabinet could not have made their decision based on the 2011 census because the 2021 census had not been conducted.

The current petition to the Supreme Court challenged the new ordinance, and the court granted the petitioner the right to proceed to the High Court first.

Advocate Joel Carlos then filed the current petition and recommended it for urgent listing.

According to the petition, the challenged ordinance is ex-facie illegal and unconstitutional because it seeks to overturn the Supreme Court’s orders.

According to the plea, the State Election Commission will not be able to conduct BMC elections because the elections to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation are already more than six months behind schedule.

The urgent plea was mentioned, requesting an interim stay on the ordinance and directing the SEC to conduct the elections in accordance with the previous government’s delimitation exercise.

Additionally, the plea argued that the new 2022 ordinance violates the Constitution and should be struck down.

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