Mumbai: Two sitting corporators of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) moved the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of the BMC to hold its standing committee meet virtually and not physically on Thursday noon.
The corporators claimed that virtual meeting will disable an effective deliberation and discussion, and even hinder corporators from voting on the 35 items to be discussed.
However, a division bench of Justices Suresh Gupte and Abhay Ahuja disposed of the petition filed by Vinod Mishra and Makarand Narvekar stating that the standing committee meeting should be held virtually on Friday noon.
"The meeting would be held virtually on Friday noon. All the issues be discussed on the meeting and no other issues apart from the 35 items already mentioned in the meet's agenda should be deliberated," the judges said in their order.
Advocate for the petitioners, Jeet Gandhi had argued and said, "The arbitrary decision of the BMC to have 35 items for deliberations in a single meet virtually is in violation of the orders of the high court passed in October last year, wherein specific directive was issued to the BMC to hold the meeting physically."
Gandhi said that the issues to be discussed are touching the lives of the citizens of Mumbai and thus need effective deliberations, which can only be done physically. He pointed out that members won't be able to vote on these 35 issues if the same is held virtually.
Responding to this Justice Gupte said, "We fail to understand this contention. When hearings of cases can be done virtually then why can't the BMC standing committee meet virtually?"
"Why can't there be voting on virtual platforms?" the judge questioned.
Seeing that the bench wasn't convinced by his submissions against virtual meet, Gandhi informed the judges that the BMC did not follow the rules.
"The law mandates the notice of the meeting should be served at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. But here, the civic body served the notice only on Wednesday night," Gandhi pointed out.
At this, the bench sought to know from the BMC if the meeting can be deferred for one more day and be kept on Friday. Accordingly, senior counsel Anil Sakhare for the BMC, after taking instructions from civic chief Iqbal Chahal, told the bench that the authorities have agreed to reschedule the meeting on Friday noon.