Kolhapur civic body: Supreme Court disqualifies 20 corporators

Mumbai: Following the judgment of Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, 20 corporators of the total 81 of the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC), including three former Mayors will be disqualified. The Urban Development Department (UDD) is likely to issue the order of disqualification of the corporators within next few days due to their failure to submit a caste validity certificate to the State Election Commission (SEC) within a stipulated period of six months. After the development, the Congress-Nationalist Congress regime in KMC is likely to end and alliance of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Tararani Aghadi may come to power.

The apex court upheld the Bombay High Court (HC) ruling and observed that the corporators who failed to file their valid caste certificates within six months of being elected should be disqualified. The HC in December 2016 had passed the ruling on a petition against the SEC as it had rapped the corporators for failing to furnish their certificates before the scrutiny committee on time.

A total of 11 corporators from the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition, which presently controls the 81-member KMC, eight from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Tararani Aghadi alliance, which forms the main Opposition within the civic body, and one from the Shiv Sena are set to face the axe.

Three among them – Hasina Faras, Niyaz Khan and Ashwini Ramane — are former Mayors of the KMC.

A sword of damocles has been hanging over them since 2016 for failing to abide by the SEC rules. The corporators, including Faras, had filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court in December 2016 challenging their disqualification. The case has been dragging since then. The apex court’s upholding of the Bombay HC ruling is likely to see several more disqualifications across the State in civic bodies, municipal councils and grampanchayat samitis.

The SEC is likely to announce byelections to the 20 KMC wards on disqualification of the 20 corporators. This could affect the fortunes of the ruling Congress-NCP coalition in KMC as their strength would whittle down.

Talking to FPJ, Kolhapur Con­g­ress leader Satej Patil said, “It is not the fault of corporators. They have adhered to the norms laid down by the SEC, but are made to suffer due to the tardiness of the caste certificate verification committee in completing their scrutiny.”

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