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Bombay High Court dismisses Mumbai BJP corporator's plea for LoP post in BMC

06:14 PM Sep 21, 2020 | PTI

The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by BJP corporator Prabhakar Shinde seeking that he be recognised as leader of opposition in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

A bench led by Justice SJ Kathawalla pronounced its verdict via video-conferencing.

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The Congress' Ravi Raja will continue as LoP in the civic body in the metropolis.

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Shinde had approached the court in June this year challenging Mayor Kishori Pednekar's decision to appoint Raja as the leader of opposition.

"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 incumbent leader of opposition who was otherwise duly appointed in accordance with law," the bench said in its judgement.

It said the mayor's decision was "just" and "proper" and, therefore, "no interference was required".

As per Shinde's plea, after the 2017 civic elections, BJP had decided to stay "neutral" and perform the job of a watchdog and not join with the ruling party and not take up the post of leader of Opposition.

The LoP post then went to the third largest party after Raja raised a point of order on it.

However, in February this year, some BJP corporators began demanding that the LoP be chosen from the party as they alleged that Raja had been "sponsored" by the ruling Shiv Sena.

In his plea, Shinde said Raja had failed to act as opposition leader, which was opposed by the latter's counsel Joel Carlos.

Carlos argued that Raja had been appointed by the mayor after following due process, adding that the BJP could not dispute it simply because it had changed its mind now.

As per Carlos' submissions in HC, although the BJP had voted in favour of SS candidates for mayor and deputy mayor, since there was admittedly no pre-poll or post-poll alliance between BJP and Sena, the BJP was specifically offered the post of LoP, which it refused to accept at the time.

"BJP was a party in opposition in 2017 and continues to be so even today. The BJP, which refused to accept the post of the LOP in 2017, cannotnow seek it in 2020 merely on the ground that it has changed its mind," Carlos told court.

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