The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed public interest litigation challenging a notification issued by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief for suggestions and objections from citizens on the proposed delimitation of civic wards.
A division bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and Abhay Ahuja also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 each on the two petitioners- Nitesh Ranjhans Singh (BJP) and Sagar Devre (MNS).
The court while dismissing the plea said it was accepting the statement made by the State Election Commission (SEC) that due to lack of manpower, it has appointed state officers as its delegates for election purposes and that any final decision on the delimitation of wards would be taken by the commission only.
The cash-rich BMC is controlled by the Shiv Sena and the civic polls are due later this year.
The public interest litigation (PIL) had challenged the legality and propriety of the BMC notification of February 1 inviting suggestions and objections from the public on the proposed delimitation of wards, to increase their number from 227 to 236 ahead of the corporation elections.
The petitioners’ main contention was that BMC Commissioner I S Chahal, who had issued the notification, was not authorised to do so.
The SEC had earlier told the court that it had delegated the power to the BMC Commissioner for the purpose of elections.
As per the SEC, when such powers are delegated to state officers, they act as delegates of the election commission and not as an officer of the state government.
The BMC and the SEC had informed the court that the final date for submitting the suggestions and objections was February 14 and 816 letters were received as of that date.
An IAS officer, Manoj Sounik, who is presently an additional chief secretary (finance), has been appointed to conduct a hearing on the objections and suggestions of the public.
A report would be submitted to the SEC on March 1 and a final decision on the formation of new wards rests with the State Election Commissioner.