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Bombay HC rejects pleas challenging multiple ward system for civic bodies

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The Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed two pleas challenging the state government’s decision of October last year which reintroduced a multi-member ward system for all city councils and corporations except BMC, instead of the existing single-member ward system.

According to the government’s decision, there will be a three-member ward system in municipal corporations and a two-member ward system in municipal councils.

In other words, municipal seats will be demarcated together to create a three-member and two-member ward system in corporations and councils respectively. There will be no change in the number of wards or corporations; wards will be grouped together for election purposes only.

A divisional bench headed by Judge AA Sayed was hearing two petitions filed by Tanmay Kanitkar of Pune’s NGO Parivartan Trust and Maruti Bhapkar, a former corporal with the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, who claimed the decision was “politically motivated” and “creates discrimination between voters in Mumbai and other parts of the state.

Lawyers Asim Sarode, Ajit Deshpande and Ajinkya Udane said the election of multiple corporators in each ward “disrupts good governance”.

The petitioners added that the ruling Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, by coming together, will be able to present candidates in each constituency. “It is only under the guise of collective representation that the current government aims to achieve political mileage…and if multi-member neighborhoods are so effective, why doesn’t the government apply the same to the BMC too? plea requested.

However, Attorney General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state government opposed the appeal and then claimed that it was not viable. The State Election Commission (SEC) also opposed the appeal.

On Friday, a divisional bench of Judge AA Sayed and Judge Abhay Ahuja concluded the hearing and orally declared that the pleas are dismissed and a reasoned verdict will be made available in due course.