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The order has been passed in a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the amendment(s) to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, and Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats, Industrial Townships Act which mandated the State government to take over the powers of formation of electoral wards.
A miffed Supreme Court bench today observed that the Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) “cannot and shall not” renotify elections for the local civic bodies in the state, so as to provide reservation in local bodies.
"In case of any breach of this direction and all concerned, the SEC will be personally responsible for action of having contempt", a Justice AM Khanwilkar led bench ordered.
At this juncture, counsel for the state election commission requested the bench to delete said observation from the order.
To this the Court said, "Why delete? You have been troubling us this way for this matter."
On July 20, the Supreme Court had directed the State Election Commission to notify all local body elections in Maharashtra within two weeks.
Such direction was passed in a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the amendment(s) to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, and Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats, Industrial Townships Act.
A three-judge bench had passed the orders after Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade had informed it that the population-wise report on the percentage of other backward class people have been submitted and as per the instructions, the state has accepted the same.
Additionally, the counsel appearing for the State Election Commission had submitted that the elections are not being delayed and will not be delayed.
Today, when the matter came up before a bench also comprising of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice JB Pardiwala, the SEC sought to renotify the election in respect of 367 local bodies.
Justice Khanwilkar responded to such request saying that the SEC was misreading its directions as issued on July 20, 2022.
"The SEC is obliged to conduct election in respect of 367 local bodies. This position has been restated on every hearing. No reason to have any second look to said direction. Only liberty given to SEC was to realign dates of elections already notified subject to certain exigencies. SEC cannot and shall not renotify election program so as to provide reservation in local bodies..." the top court said today.
Notably, on May 4, the bench had directed the Maharashtra State Election Commission to notify the elections for local bodies in two weeks. Court had noted that the issue pertaining to reservation for the Other Backward Classes will be decided by it after the elections take place.
Case Title: Rahul Ramesh Wagh Vs State of Maharashtra
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