Observing that the pandemic in the state is 'well under control' the Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the Maharashtra government to reconsider its decision to permit the local self-governments to conduct their general body meetings only through video conferencing and not physically.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni questioned the rationale behind the state's decision especially in view of the fact that the sessions of the Parliament and also the state assembly are being held physically.
"We are also informed that the Lok Sabha sessions in New Delhi is being conducted in the physical presence of the members; so also, the sessions in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly," the judges noted.
"The pandemic in this state is well under control. Activities in almost all spheres have opened up. The Secretariat is working in full swing. The Courts have opened up providing access to justice for all. The local bodies are also performing their statutory duties. The situation, thus, is not so grim as in the past year," the bench added.
The bench was seized with a plea filed by two corporators of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) seeking a directive to the state government and the urban development department to allow the civic body to hold its general body meetings physically and not virtually.
The judges further took into account that there is no containment zone in Thane district. They also noted the submission that the state has already allowed cinema halls to function 100 per cent physically in areas with no containment zones.
"In such view of the matter, there could hardly be any plausible reason as to why the general body meetings of the TMC cannot be conducted in the physical presence of all the councillors, more so considering that only 131 councillors of the civic body would be required to transact the business of the meeting and that the meeting hall is also spacious enough to accommodate all such councillors," the bench said.
The bench further said there isn't any justification on part of the state for barring local self-governments from holding physical meetings.