HC rejects Mahakalkar’s plea, upholds appointment of Vanve as Leader of Oppn in NMC

Nagpur: The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected the petition filed by ousted Leader of Opposition in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation Sanjay Mahakalkar and upheld the decision of Divisional Commissioner to appoint break-away Congress Corporator Tanaji Vanve as Leader of Opposition in NMC.

The division bench comprising Justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Rohit Deo had earlier heard arguments from all sides at length and reserved the judgment.

Former Advocate General Sunil Manohar, appearing on Tanaji Vanve’s behalf, had defended the Divisional Commissioner Anup Kumar’s move to appoint Vanve, who ousted Mahakalkar on May 19, claiming support of 16 out of 29 Congress Corporators in the NMC. Subsequently, Kumar appointed Vanve as Leader of Opposition on the basis of numbers of corporators supporting him.

The Divisional Commissioner in his affidavit to the court had informed that he received application on May 16 which shows that voting took place in election of Vanve as new LOP. In the process, out of 29 elected members, 17 voted in Vanve’s favour.

Adv Subodh Dharmadhikari, who pleaded on behalf of Indian National Congress (INC) and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), contended that political party in Municipal Corporation would always be an affiliate of original political party at Centre or State. He also questioned the Mayor’s powers to recognize Vanve even as Mahakalkar was unanimously elected by all the Corporators earlier.

The ruling by the High Court has paved the way for Kishore Jichkar who was nominated by Vanve as co-opted member (Corporator) of NMC. The approval for nomination of Jichkar would be accorded in the next General Body Meeing of NMC to be held next month.

An elated Tanaji Vanve welcomed the High Court judgment and termed it as victory of democracy. On the other hand, the dejected Mahakalkar hinted at approaching Supreme Court against the High Court ruling.

Notably, Congress party in Nagpur Municipal Corporation had split vertically shortly after NMC elections . The new group claiming a majority had elected senior Corporator Tanaji Vanve as its leader. The group submitted a letter signed by 17 Corporators to the Divisional Commissioner notifying him Vanve was elected as the new group leader of the party in the civic house. Copies were forwarded to Mayor Nanda Jichkar and Municipal Commissioner Ashwin Mudgal.