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FPJ Legal: Bombay HC dismisses plea challenging increase in BMC wards

Urvi Mahajani | Updated on: Monday, January 17, 2022, 10:11 PM IST

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The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed the petition by two BJP councillors - Abhijit Samant and Rajeshree Shirwadkar - challenging the ordinance approved by the state cabinet on November 30 to increase the ward strength of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from 227 to 236.

A division bench of Justice Amjad Sayed and Justice Abhay Ahuja dismissed the plea saying: “We are dismissing the petition and a detailed order will be made available later.”

Virendra Tulzapurkar, petitioners’ counsel, argued that the ordinance was “illegal and arbitrary”, and issued ahead of the BMC elections scheduled for next year to benefit a certain political party.

Sachin Shetye, counsel for the State Election Commission, submitted that it had a schedule in place to conduct the elections and that any delays to the election schedule must be avoided.

The petitioners had contended since, the 2011 census statistics were already made use of for the 2017 elections and the number of wards were not changed at the time, they must now only be changed using data from the next census, contends the petition.

The 2011 census showed that the city's population rose by 3.87 percent. However, 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, the plea said.

The Maharashtra government maintained that the said change had been brought about to ensure that the total number of seats in various Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils were commensurate with the population increase in the respective areas.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, appearing for the government argued that as per the 2011 census, the population in the BMC area was 1.24 crore and there was an increase of 3.87 per cent and, therefore, the number of councillors increased was proportional to the population.

Senior advocate Anil Sakhare for the BMC said that the increase in the number of ward seats was intended to better manage the issues of large population in the city.

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Published on: Monday, January 17, 2022, 10:18 PM IST