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Scheduled caste reservation for the post of Mayor in a Municipal Corporation cannot be in violation of the rotation principle: Bombay High Court

Repeating the reservation criteria for backward classes for the post of Mayor in a Municipal Corporation is a violation of the rotation principle. A division bench comprising of Justice Ujjwal Bhuyan and Justice MG Sewlikar while adjudicating the matter in Shri Sanjay v. State of Maharashtra [WRIT PETITION NO.14440 OF 2019]; dealt with the issue of eligibility criteria in a Municipal Corporation.

Petitioner belongs to the scheduled caste category and his caste certificate was validated by the caste scrutiny committee. He is a social worker as well as a political activist having been elected as Councillor of Dhule Municipal Corporation for several terms. Though the petitioner belonged to the scheduled caste, he contested the election from the general category and got elected as a candidate belonging to the Bhartiya Janata Party. Petitioner has stated that he is an aspirant for the office of Mayor of Dhule Municipal Corporation. In the latest notification that was issued by Government of Maharashtra, it was stated that the office of Mayor in the Dhule Municipal Corporation for the term commencing from about June, 2021 as per impugned notification, should have been earmarked for the scheduled caste category and could not have been earmarked for backward class category because already the office of Mayor in the Dhule Municipal Corporation was earmarked for the backward class category in 2006 and in 2014. Till date, there has been no reservation for the scheduled caste category. The petitioner sought quashing of such a notification issued by the Maharashtra Government and further sought a direction to the respondents to reserve the office of Mayor in the Dhule Municipal Corporation for scheduled caste category.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts disposed the writ petition and stated that; “In so far as reservation in the office of Mayor in Dhule Municipal Corporation is concerned, already on two earlier occasions there were reservation for backward class. Repeating such reservation again for the current time would certainly be a violation of the rotation principle. This coupled with the fact that there has been no reservation till date for the scheduled caste category. Consequently, and in the light of the above, we set aside the impugned notification issued by the Government of Maharashtra, in respect of Dhule Municipal Corporation.  The matter is remanded back to respondent no.1 to consider afresh the issue relating to reservation in the office of Mayor in the Dhule Municipal Corporation having regard to the discussions made above. Reconsideration so directed shall be carried out by respondent no.1 within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment and order. Till the said exercise is carried out and notified, status-quo as on today as regards office of Mayor in Dhule Municipal Corporation shall be maintained.”

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