A person who was not successful in the Ward elections cannot by an indirect method or backdoor entry become the Leader of the House was upheld by the High Court of Bombay through the learned bench led by A.A. SAYED & S.G. DIGE, JJ. in the case of RAVINDRA HEMRAJ DHANGEKAR Vs GANESH MADHUKAR BIDKAR AND ORS (WRIT PETITION NO.2155 OF 2021) on 28 FEBRUARY 2022.
Brief facts of the case are that the Petitioner is a Councillor elected at the Ward elections of the Pune Municipal Corporation held in February 2017. The challenge in the Writ Petition is to the appointment of Respondent No. 1 as Leader of the House in the Pune Municipal Corporation (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Corporation’). The Petitioner and Respondent No.1 had contested the 2017 Ward elections of the Corporation from Ward No.16. The Petitioner secured highest number of votes and was elected to the Corporation. Respondent No.1 was the unsuccessful candidate. Even so, BJP proposed Respondent No.1 for his appointment as nominated Councillor. On 25 April 2017, Respondent No.1 was appointed as nominated Councillor in the Corporation. On 11 December 2020, in a meeting held of the Councillors of BJP, a resolution was passed appointing the Respondent No.1 as Leader of the Party (BJP) in the Corporation. Pursuant to the Respondent No.1 being appointed as Leader of the Party (BJP), he came to be appointed as Leader of the House under section 19-1A of the said Act, which appointment is the subject matter of challenge in the Writ Petition.
The Court observed that “a nominated Councillor’ is not an ‘elected Councillor’ within the meaning of section 19-1A and unless a person is an elected Councillor, in that, he is directly elected at Ward elections, he is not eligible to be appointed as ‘Leader of the House’ under section 19-1A”.
In view of facts and circumstances, court held that the Respondent No. 1 is not entitled to be appointed or hold the post/position of Leader of the House under section 19-A of the said Act. In the result, the Petition succeeds and is allowed. The appointment of Respondent No. 1 as Leader of the House in Pune Municipal Corporation is quashed and set aside.
Written by- Riya Singh, Legal Intern, Prime Legal