Mumbai News

Bombay HC seeks Maharashtra Govt’s reply to ex-BMC corporator’s plea challenging decision to reduce ward numbers – The Indian Express

The Bombay High Court Thursday directed the Maharashtra government and its Urban Development Department (UDD) to file an affidavit in reply to the plea by former BMC corporator Raju Sripad Pednekar over the civic body’s wards. The ex-Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation corporator had challenged the state’s decision that reversed the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s step on the delimitation of corporation wards.

The delimitation exercise during the MVA government, initiated last year, had increased the number of electoral wards from 227 to 236, however, the August 8 ordinance decided to reinstate these wards to 227.

After Justice R D Dhanuka on Wednesday recused himself from hearing the plea, it was mentioned before a division bench of Justice Gautam S Patel and Justice Gauri V Godse on Thursday seeking an urgent hearing.

On Thursday, the high court was informed by UDD lawyers that the impugned August 8 ordinance was replaced by an Act on September 8, and the division bench then allowed the petitioner to amend the plea and challenge the Act.

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Pednekar, the former corporator belonging to Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), had approached the court after the Supreme Court granted him the liberty to withdraw his plea and move the Bombay High Court regarding the issue.

Pednekar had urged the Bombay High Court that the ordinance be declared against the Constitution, and null and void; and pending hearing of his plea, sought a stay on the ordinance. He also urged that the State Election Commission (SEC) conduct the BMC elections based on delimitation conducted earlier, as per the Supreme Court’s orders on May 4 and July 20. Pednekar said even the high court in February this year had dismissed pleas against the delimitation initiated by the MVA government considering 236 wards, after which the SEC published a final notification in the official gazette.

On Thursday, senior advocate Aspi Chinoy and advocate Joel Carlos for Pednekar sought an urgent hearing in the plea seeking a stay on the decision, to which Justice Patel said that since the elections are not going to be announced by next week and the “issue being seemingly complex,” the government’s reply was required before passing any order.


The government lawyers opposed the plea and said that no urgent relief be granted as the petitioner “sat over the matter” despite the SC order being passed on October 19 and there is already an order of status quo regarding elections, a matter which the SC will decide soon.

Senior advocate S U Kamdar for UDD informed the bench that the ordinance in question has been replaced by an Act of September 8, after which the court granted liberty to the petitioner to amend the plea without any need to file a formal application seeking the same.

Since the pleas by Pednekar along with one Sameer Kamlaakar Desai challenged the constitutionality of the Act, the high court issued a notice to Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni seeking his response on the same during the next hearing. Seeking the state’s affidavit in reply to the plea by November 25, the bench said there is no possibility of extension and posted further hearing to November 30.