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Supreme Court Dismisses BJP Leader's Plea Seeking Opposition Leader Status In Mumbai Corporation

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
16 Feb 2021 9:14 AM GMT
Supreme Court Dismisses BJP Leaders Plea Seeking Opposition Leader Status In Mumbai Corporation
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a BJP leader's petition seeking Leader of Opposition status in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India dismissed the special leave petition filed by Prabhakar Tukaram Shinde challenging a judgment of the Bombay High Court which rejcted his plea.He had sought the Leader of Opposition status in the Mumbai...

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a BJP leader's petition seeking Leader of Opposition status in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India dismissed the special leave petition filed by Prabhakar Tukaram Shinde challenging a judgment of the Bombay High Court which rejcted his plea.

He had sought the Leader of Opposition status in the Mumbai civic body following his party's rift with Shiv Sena, and the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi.

In September 2020, the Bombay HC had rejected the BJP leader's petition saying that the Leader of Opposition status cannot be claimed on 'mere change of heart'.

On Tuesday, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted before the bench on behalf of the petitioner that it was an irony that the Congress party was the opposition in the Mumbai corporation council even though it was ruling the state in coalition with the Shiv Sena.

He explained that after the 2017 elections to the Mumbai civic body, BJP emerged had emerged as the second largest party, after Shiv Sena. However, BJP declined the status of Leader of Opposition(as it was in coalition with Shiv Sena then), and therefore, the position went to the Congress party. Three years later, in February 2020, the BJP raised a demand for LoP status, as by then the political equations had changed, resulting in Congress aligning with the Shiv Sena to form the 'Maha Vikas Agadi' coalition to govern Maharashtra after the 2019 assembly polls.

Rohatgi submitted that a "healthy opposition" was necessary in a democracy. He further submitted that the provisions of the law governing municipal corporations envisaged a dynamic situation. A member may resign, die or join another party.

"It cannot be that if one man is elected, he will remain for 5 years. There is no bar in taking a position subsequently. The section uses the word 'time being'. It suggests a transitory situation", Rohatgi submitted.

However, the bench expressed reluctance to accept the arguments.

"We do not know of any case where legal right is dependent on how your relationship changes. Relationship cannot affect your legal right", CJI SA Bobde remarked.

"We don't subscribe to the philosophy that things are right only if you oppose", the CJI orally observed. The CJI also said that it is not impossible that one party supports another party at the assembly level while opposing it in the municipal council.

Without entertaining further arguments, the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanium, dismissed the special leave petition.

On 21st September, 2020, the Bombay High Court had dismissed the writ petition filed by BJP Councillor Prabhakar Shinde seeking to be recognized as the Leader of Opposition at the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

A Division Bench of Justice SJ Kathawalla and Justice Madhav Jamdar had observed that a mere volte-face or change of heart or decision to increase one's extent of participation whilst in opposition, cannot justify the removal of an incumbent Leader of Opposition who was otherwise duly appointed in accordance with law and as a result of the BJP's express refusal to accept the post in 2017.





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