FPJ Legal | MBMC Mayoral Polls: Fate of rebel BJP corporators hang in balance over cross voting

More than 15 months after the mayoral polls, the BJP has rolled up its sleeves to secure the suspension of four corporators in the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) for abstaining or cross-voting, while electing the mayor and deputy mayor of the civic body in February-2020.

In response to the writ petition (3138/2021) filed by deputy mayor- Hasmukh Gehlot, the Bombay High Court has directed the Konkan Commissioner to take a decision on merit, after hearing both sides as early as possible, but in any case on or before August 31, 2021.

The orders were issued by a bench comprising- Justice K.K. Tated and Justice Riyaz Chagla via video conferencing on June 19, 2021. While BJP corporators including Geeta Jain (now legislator), Parshuram Mhatre, Ashwin Kasodaria, Morris Rodrigues and Vaishali Rakvi had indulged in cross voting to favour the rival Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) candidates, one of them had abstained from the election proceedings held under the aegis of Mumbai suburb collector- Milind Borikar on February 26, 2020.

The local BJP leadership claimed that despite serving officials whips, the members had indulged in the anti-party act. Rodrigues and Rakvi responded to the show cause notice served to them by the party, following which the BJP sought disqualification of the remaining four corporators before Konkan Divisional Commissioner in March 2020.

However hearings on the issue were cancelled on a couple of occasions, leading to an unprecedented delay in getting a ruling as the matter remained pending before the authority for more than 15 months.

Citing provisions in accordance with rule 8(1A) of the Maharashtra Local Authority Members Disqualification Rules which mandates such applications to be decided within six months from the date of notice served on the opponent, Gehlot knocked the doors of the High Court which passed the orders. Despite the cross voting, the polls were a cake-walk for Jyotsna Hasnale and Hasmukh Gehlot (both BJP) who were elected as mayor and deputy mayor respectively in a straight contest with the MVA.

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