Pune: Stop election process, SEC tells civic body, cites amendment to Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act
The State Election Commission (SEC) has directed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to stop its election process till further orders as the Eknath Shinde-led state government has issued an ordinance to amend the clauses related to civic elections in the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act that will restore the previous method for fixing the strength of corporators for each municipal corporation, while cancelling the ongoing election process of the civic bodies.
In an official order dated August 4, SEC Secretary Kiran Kurundkar said that the state government on August 4 has made an amendment in the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act and its provisions. The civic bodies are directed to stop the election process till further orders, he said.
“The state has promulgated the ordinance to make amendment to Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act and thereby change the total number of seats of the municipal corporations. It has also annulled the process of delimitation and reservation done so far by State Election Commission and has provided that such process shall be started afresh,” Kurundkar stated.
As per the amendment, a municipal corporation with population over 30 lakh will have a minimum of 161 elected corporators and the number will increase for each 1 lakh population. Thus, the strength of corporators in PMC is likely to be 166 as against 173 corporators for which the election process of delimitation and reservation of seats was conducted.
In the previous term, there were 164 seats in PMC but the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government had made amendments to increase the number of seats considering the population had grown in the last decade while the delay in completion of 2021 Census due to pandemic was unable to give the exact population of civic bodies. The SEC is following 2011 Census figures for the election process.
“The PMC had completed the process of delimitation, reservation of seats and finalisation of electoral rolls for the civic elections as per the direction of the State Election Commission. However, the process is now being stopped as per the new directions,” said Yashwantra Mane, in charge of the PMC election department.
The previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government had increased the strength of corporators in PMC to 173 while deciding to hold the elections in three-member electoral panel as against the four-member electoral panel in the previous election. However, it has once again reverted to a four-member electoral panel.
Meanwhile, the city Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has decided to approach the Supreme Court against the state government’s decision saying it was contempt of court as the election process was being implemented as per the direction of the apex court but the current state government was unnecessarily delaying it by amending the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act. “The citizens have already suffered due to the absence of an elected body in the PMC. The apex court had objected to the further extension of tenure of administrator and (directed to) declare the election within 15 days. The current decision would further delay the election and add to the suffering of citizens,” said city NCP chief Prashant Jagtap.
Pune BJP chief Jagdish Mulick said that the new state government had to make the amendment in the Act as the previous government decision was violating the norms set up to decide the number of corporators in municipal corporations.