Mumbai: The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that it will not proceed with the delimitation process with respect to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ward elections in Mumbai.
The government counsel Vikram Nankaji and Jyoti Chavan submitted a letter before a division bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and AS Doctor which was issued to the Municipal Commissioners (all concerned) on November 22.
The letter read: “… necessary action should be taken immediately to determine the number/ composition of the wards as per the next census for the upcoming general elections of the municipal corporations whose term has expired and whose term is expiring in the near future.”
MVA government’s decision on the delimitation of corporation wards
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Raju Pednekar challenging the ordinance of August 8 that reversed the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s decision on the delimitation of corporation wards.
Pednekar belongs to the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray). He approached the HC after the Supreme Court recently refused to entertain his plea.
The court was informed that the Supreme Court has kept the pleas on the issue on December 13. The HC kept the petition for hearing on December 20.
Opposing the plea, affidavit was filed by Priyanka Chhapwale, deputy secretary of UDD stating that there was miniscule increase in population from 2001 to 2021 census and hence wards were not increased for the elections which took place in 2012 and 2017.
“Pertinently, increase in population from the year 2001 till 2011, as reported by the census exercise of 2011 was found to be insufficient, miniscule to increase the number of Councillors from 227 and that was the reason that the Respondent No. 3 did not increase number of wards for the elections which had taken place in the year 2012 and 2017,” read the affidavit.
No increase in the number of Councillors, Wards was required
“Thus, the data of 2011 census clearly demonstrated that no increase in the number of Councillors, Wards was required and since there was no new data which required a change in the number of wards.”
The 2001 census showed Mumbai population as 1,19,78,450 which increased to 1,24,42,373 in 2011 which is increase of only 3.87 per cent.
“It is well settled principle of law that right to contest an election does not have the status of fundamental rights. Instead the said right is mere creature of a statute,” it adds.
Stating that the law as it stood prior to 30th November, 2021 (having 227 seats) was valid and constitutional, the government has sought that Pednekar’s plea be dismissed which has been filed with “malafide” intentions and due to “political influence”.
SEC needs six months to complete the entire election process
An affidavit filed by State Election Commission’s (SEC) deputy commissioner, Avinash Sanas, states that the SEC needs six months to complete the entire election process including four major stages - delimitation, reservation, voter list and actual conduct of polls.
Considering that the BMC body was scheduled to expire on MArch 7, 2022, it started the pre-election process in August 2021. However, the seats were increased from 227 to 236 and started it’s process afresh.
Meanwhile, the new government issued a new ordinance on August 4 reducing seats from 236 to 227.
Hence, SEC has approached the SC seeking clarification.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )