24 Aug 2023 6:09 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently disposed of two PILs challenging proposed de-merger of Uruli Devachi and Phursungi villages from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and establishment of a separate Municipal Council. The PILs claimed that the state government did not follow the process of consultation with the corporation as per section 3(3)(a) of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation...
The Bombay High Court recently disposed of two PILs challenging proposed de-merger of Uruli Devachi and Phursungi villages from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and establishment of a separate Municipal Council. The PILs claimed that the state government did not follow the process of consultation with the corporation as per section 3(3)(a) of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949.
Advocate General of Maharashtra Dr. Birendra Saraf told the bench of Chief Justice Devendra Upadhyaya and Justice Arif S Doctor that the state government will rectify any legal deficiency found in the process of consultation with the Corporation before issuing the final notification modifying PMC limits.
“the PIL petitions are disposed of in terms of the statement made by the learned Advocate General that before issuing the final notification excluding certain areas from the Municipal Corporation of Pune and constituting another Municipal Council, if any legal lacuna/deficiency is found in the process of consultation with the Corporation, the same shall be cured/made good”, the court held.
The PILs challenged the validity of the notification dated March 31, 2023, issued by the Urban Development Department of the State of Maharashtra. The notification pertains to exclusion of certain areas from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) while announcing a separate Municipal Council for them. On August 4, 2017, 11 revenue villages including Fursungi and Uruli Devachi were included within the municipal limits of PMC with a view to resolve the problem of water contamination due to waste dumping in Fursungi and Uruli Devachi.
The petitioners' case revolved around the interpretation of the term "consultation with the Corporation" in Section 3(3)(a) of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, 1949. This provision provides that the state government has to consult the Municipal Corporation before making any changes in its limits.
The petitioners contended that there was no consultation with the Corporation as there was no elected House of the Corporation in existence, and an Administrator heads the Corporation. They argued that the term necessitates consultation with the body corporate of the Corporation, which includes the elected representatives and the House of the Corporation, as constituted under Section 5 of the Act. They stressed the importance of a meaningful consultation process with the elected representatives before making decisions regarding the alteration of municipal boundaries. The petitioners relied on judgment in the case of Sandeep Pandurang Patil v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., where it was held that "consultation with the Corporation" requires engagement with the body corporate itself, and not just the Municipal Commissioner.
Advocate General Dr. Birendra B. Saraf stated that the notification in question is not a final decision but a preliminary step inviting objections from the public. He emphasized that the process of excluding certain areas from the Municipal Corporation of Pune and establishing another Municipal Council is still underway, and the final notification has not been issued yet. The Advocate General assured the Court that any legal deficiencies in the consultation process, if identified, will be rectified before the final notification is issued.
In response to the petitioners' argument that consultation with the administrator does not fulfil the requirement of "consultation with the Corporation," the Advocate General relied on the judgment in Hemant Narayan Rasne v. Commissioner and Administrator of Pune Municipal Corporation & Ors., which held that Administrator appointed under Section 452A of the Act has all the powers, functions, and responsibilities of the house.
The court affirmed that an Administrator appointed under Section 452A of the Act, possesses the authority to exercise all functions and duties entrusted to the body corporate under Section 5 of the Act.
“Thus, we are of the considered opinion that once the administrator is appointed under Section 452A, he is empowered to undertake and perform all the functions and duties which are otherwise entrusted to the body corporate constituted under Section 5 of the Act of 1949”, the court held.
The Court permitted the petitioners to submit representations raising objections to the consultation process within ten days.
Case no. – Public Interest Litigation No. 104 of 2023
Case Title – Ranjeet Sampatrao Raskar & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.
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