Taking a cue from the reopening of schools, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to allow its corporators to physically participate in its standing committee meetings.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik was urgently moved after BJP corporator Vinod Mishra, through his lawyers, challenged the decision of BMC conducting virtual meetings of the standing committee. He said that projects worth crores of public money needs to be discussed through the physical participation of the committee members. He had also claimed that he along with few other committee members were not able to attend the meeting due to technical issues.
"The situation in Mumbai does not point to any imminent third wave of the pandemic. Schools and colleges have re-opened, and children are attending the schools and colleges physically," chief justice Datta, in his orders noted. "All the courts in Maharashtra are functioning as in the pre-pandemic days. Markets, malls, restaurants, etc. are open and vehicular traffic on the road is also substantial," he added. The BMC through senior counsel Anil Sakhare pointed out that the standing committee meetings are held virtually since April since the lockdown was imposed.
The judges in their orders, further noted that offices are also functioning as if Covid was a thing of the past. "In such a situation, it defies logic as to why only a few of the Standing Committee members including its Chairman would be permitted to attend the meeting physically and the rest required to attend through the virtual platform," the chief justice said.
"If any member of the Standing Committee wishes to participate in the meeting physically, she/he should be allowed." The judges, accordingly, permitted Mishra to attend the meeting physically. "We wish the government in the appropriate department to take an appropriate decision as early as possible but not later than 5 days, as to why physical meetings shall not be permitted to be conducted by the Municipal Corporation," the judges said.
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