By LE Desk

Mumbai, April 6: In a relief to BJP-nominated BMC corporator Bhalchandra Shirsat, the Bombay High Court on Monday set aside the decision of the general body of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ratifying the Standing Committee chairman’s decision to disqualify Shirsat from the panel.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni had concluded hearing and reserved its ruling last month.

Shirsat was disqualified from the Standing Committee by the chairman and Shiv Sena leader Yashwant Jadhav last October. He subsequently moved the High Court challenging the order on the ground that it was “illegal” and in “colourable exercise of power”. Thereafter, the Shiv Sena-led BMC, during an ‘urgent’ general body meeting on October 23, 2020 ratified the Standing Committee’s decision. The HC on the same day granted Shirsat interim relief and allowed him to remain as a member of the panel till further orders.

The HC had directed Shirsat to pay Rs 1 lakh to the civic body for not challenging the Municipal Corporation Standing Committee Rules and for “wasting BMC’s time”. However, Shirsat amended the plea and challenged the rules which the civic body had relied on to disqualify him.

Shirsat, through advocates Amogh Singh and Jeet Gandhi, had said that the rules referred to by the BMC were contrary to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act.

The BMC and its mayor Kishori Pednekar, through senior counsel Anil Y Sakhare and Aspi Chinoy, respectively, justified the disqualification saying that only elected members can be part of the Standing Committee and there was “no scope for nominated councillor” to be inducted on the panel.

After hearing submissions, the bench observed, “Having read the statutory provisions, there appears to be no express bar for a ‘nominated councillor’ of the Corporation to be inducted in its Standing Committee”, The Indian Express reported.

While allowing Shirsat’s petition, the bench held, “The act of removal of the petitioner from the Standing Committee of the Corporation merely on the ground that he is a ‘nominated councillor’ and not an ‘elected councillor’ does not have statutory support and cannot be countenanced in law. Consequently, the impugned order merits and is, accordingly, set aside.”

With this, the court confirmed its interim order granting relief to Shirsat to remain as standing committee member and disposed of the plea.

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