Ex-Sheriff Indu Shahani has been holding on to the post as no other person has been nominated for this position. BJP Mumbai President Ashish Shelar has demanded that the state government should appoint a Sheriff within three months in March. On the other hand, legislators questioned the need of having a Sheriff for the city which only means incurring additional expenditure. The Sheriff of Mumbai is an apolitical titular position of authority bestowed for one year on a prominent citizen of Mumbai.
Ashish Shelar, BJP Mumbai President “I am unaware if the government is facing any difficulty to appoint the Sheriff of Mumbai. If any hurdles exist then the government should overcome it. I will once again put forward my demand for the appointment of a new Sheriff for the city.”
“The government is facing financial crunch hence it should scrap the post of Sheriff. Moreover the Sheriff does not have any executive powers,” said Jagannathrao Hegde, Former Sheriff of Mumbai.
“This is an emotional issue to me, as my father Nana (Chudasama), a former Mumbai Sheriff, was probably one of the most respected Sheriff Mumbai had. He actually showed that a person appointed for this post can do more work. The state government should decide on when and how to fill the vacant post. I am sure that when there is a suitable candidate the government will appoint him. There has to be a candidate who can meet the benchmark set by former sheriffs Mumbai had,” said Shaina NC, BJP spokesperson.
Earlier the state government issued a GR (government resolution) during former chief minister Ashok Chavan’s tenure, enabling the Sheriff to continue in the post even after a year if a new appointment is not made before the person’s tenure comes to an end. Mumbai is the only Indian city after Kolkata to continue with the British-era position. The sheriff is an officer of the high court and ranks just below the mayor, but does not have independent executive powers.
The rules and duties of a Sheriff have been mentioned in chapter 28 of the Bombay High Court which also provides for the post of Deputy Sheriff in case of the Sheriff not being able to discharge the duties for some reasons. As per the High Court rules the Sheriff is a nominal head of the High Court department that carries out orders of the High Court summoning people, attaching or sealing properties and if need be order for their auction. Besides this the Sheriff is also expected to receive foreign dignitaries and call for condolence meetings in the event of the demise of any prominent personality. The Sheriff has an office and staff but does not have executive powers of his own. The Sheriff office is in the High Court Building on the Ground Floor.
The first Sheriff of Mumbai was educationist Bhau Daji, in 1869. After Independence, Mahadeo L. Dahanukar was appointed as the Sheriff of Mumbai in 1948. Since then some of the prominent personalities appointed include – Dilip Kumar (1980), Dr B K Goyal (1981), Sunil Dutt (1982), Homi Sethna (1991), Sunil Gavaskar (1995) and Vijaypat Singhania (2006).