Describing it as “mandatory”, a full bench of the Bombay High Court has upheld the time limit of six months prescribed in the Act governing municipal polls within which an elected councillor from a reserved seat is required to produce before the authorities his caste validity certificate.
“We hold that the time limit of six months prescribed in the two provisos of section 9A of the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, within which an elected person is required to produce (before the poll authorities) the validity caste certificate from the scrutiny committee, is mandatory,” said the bench comprising Justices Abhay Oka, M S Sonak and A S Gadkari.
The high court further held that in terms of second proviso to section 9A if such an elected person fails to produce validity caste certificate within the stipulated period of six months, his election shall be deemed to have been terminated retrospectively and he shall be disqualified from being a councillor.
“Such retrospective termination of his election and disqualification from being a councillor would be automatic and validation of his caste claim after the stipulated period would not result in restoration of his election,” the bench observed while hearing a petition filed by Anant H Ulahalkar seeking interpretation of section 9A of the Act.
The first proviso to section 9A of the Act permits a person to so contest even without submitting the validity certificate, provided, he files and undertaking that he shall submit such certificate within a period of six months from the date on which he is elected.
The second proviso to section 9 A provides that if such a person fails to produce validity certificate within the prescribed period of six months from the date on which he is elected, his election shall be deemed to have terminated retrospectively and he shall be disqualified from being a councillor.
A reference was made to the full bench to interpret whether the stipulated period of six months is mandatory.