20 Feb 2021 4:50 PM GMT
The grounds of anger, depression and social work during the pandemic cannot be used to allow a Councillor to withdraw her resignation under the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, 1959, the Bombay High Court held while dismissing a former councillor's petition. A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla, observed that under Section 7, Chapter II of the MMC Act,...
The grounds of anger, depression and social work during the pandemic cannot be used to allow a Councillor to withdraw her resignation under the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, 1959, the Bombay High Court held while dismissing a former councillor's petition.
A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla, observed that under Section 7, Chapter II of the MMC Act, a councillor's seat becomes vacant from the moment a resignation notice is given to the Commissioner. Therefore, the Commissioner cannot be faulted for not bringing a subsequent withdrawal to the fore, as it was immaterial.
"The Commissioner of the Respondent No. 2 Corporation (Municipal Corporation of Bhiwandi, Nizampur) is not empowered in law to allow the Petitioner to withdraw her resignation only because the Petitioner was angry and depressed due to a fight with her husband. Even her being an active social worker, or being at the forefront during the current pandemic to help the needy would not come to her rescue in light of S. 7 dealing with 'resignation of office by councillor'," the order read.
Indian National Congress party member Farzana Ismail Rangrez (Mirchi) approached the HC seeking a direction to the Municipal Corporation of Bhiwandi to permit her to withdraw her resignation letter dated 26th October, 2020. Rangrez submitted she was elected twice as a Councillor from different wards of the Corporation, with her second five-year term ending in 2022.
She claimed that following a quarrel with her husband, she was very angry and depressed, and submitted her resignation to the Municipal Commissioner. Subsequently, her husband and family members pacified her and convinced her to withdraw her resignation. She then approached the Corporation seeking to withdraw her resignation, on November 3, 2020, an event which was video recorded by the Corporation.
She then learnt that the Corporation had issued a letter to the State, through the Town Planning Department, to take action according to the MMC Act, while also issuing a similar letter to the State Election Commission.
Rangrez then approached HC, fearing another round of elections would be held and her office would be taken. Senior Advocate Atul Damle, appearing on her behalf, argued that it was wrong on the Commissioner's part not to bring the withdrawal of her resignation to the notice of the government and the State Election Commission.
According to section 7, chapter II of the MMC Act
Section 7. Resignation of office by councillor
"Any councillor may resign his office at any time by notice in writing to the Commissioner and, on such notice being given, his office shall become vacant as from the date of the notice."
The bench observed that the section makes it amply clear that upon any Councillor tendering a resignation in writing to the Commissioner, the seat becomes vacant from the time of the notice itself. Moreover, there was no provision for withdrawal of a resignation once given.
The bench observed Rangrez had also not mentioned any specific date from which her resignation would come into effect.
"In view of her seat having fallen vacant immediately upon receipt of her Letter of Resignation, the fact that the Commissioner did not mention that the Petitioner had withdrawn her Resignation Letter in his letter dated 2nd December, 2020, addressed to Respondent No. 1 – State of Maharashtra and/or to the Respondent No. 3 – State Election Commission, can by no means be termed as malafide, or vindictive conduct on his part, since the subsequent withdrawal of her resignation is of no consequence," the bench observed.
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