The Bombay High Court has observed that the present Shiv Sena- BJP government’s notification reversing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wards back to 227 from 236 is “in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court” and hence cannot be said to be “arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional”.
A division bench of Justices SB Shukre and MW Chandwani, on Monday, dismissed the petitions filed by two former councillors, Raju Pednekar and Sameer Desai, stating “We find no substance in both the petitions. Both the petitions stand dismissed.”
HC observed legislation in accordance to Supreme Court
In a detailed order made available late Monday night, the HC has observed that the legislation is “in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court and, therefore, cannot be found to be manifestly arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional, nor could they be found to be actuated by any political consideration or motive, although that may not be relevant for examining the validity of the impugned legislations”.
The judges have clarified that they have held the legislations valid “on the touch-stone of directions of the Supreme Court”.
The HC noted that The Statement of Objects and Reasons in the Ordinance gives two reasons and spells out two objects for its promulgation by the Governor of Maharashtra.
Statement of Objects and Reasons
The first reason is that it was noticed that the number of Councillors in MMC (Mumbai Municipal Corporation) and minimum and maximum number of elected Councillors of other local bodies were increased considering the growth in the population and speed of urbanization on the basis of the figures of census of 2011 and hypothetical calculation of population in 2021-22 respectively. The second reason is that the SC on May 4, 2022, and July 20, 2022 had directed the Election Commission to notify the election programme on the basis of delimitation done prior to coming into force of the said Amendment Acts with effect from March 11, 2022.
“Insofar as both the objects are concerned, we do not find that their basis is wrong or factually incorrect, rather their basis is to be found in the directions issued by the Supreme Court,” said the HC, while dismissing the petitions.
Pednekar and Desai had challenged the Maharashtra government’s decision reversing the previous Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s decision to go ahead with the delimitation of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wards.
In 2021, the MVA initiated the delimitation process and increased the number of electoral wards from 227 to 236. However, on August 8, the present government reduced the number of wards to 227. On September 8, the ordinance was replaced by the Act.
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