The Bombay high court has refused to interfere with the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to exclude Solapur local authorities constituency from elections to the Maharashtra legislative council (MLC).
Ashpak Balorgi, a councillor of Akkalkot Municipal Council in Solapur district, had moved high court questioning the November 9, 2021 decision of the ECI and sought a direction to the authority to hold elections for the MLC seat from Solapur local authorities constituency.
The term of sitting members from seven seats of the Maharashtra legislative council ends on January 1, 2022, but the ECI has decided to hold elections only for Mumbai, Kolhapur, Dhule-Nandurbar, Akola-Buldana-Washim, and Nagpur constituencies The ECI has, however, decided to exclude two seats – Ahmednagar and Solapur local authorities constituencies – for failing to meet the criteria of at least 75% functional electorate.
Balorgi moved high court questioning the decision on two counts – first, he contended that the conclusion that Solapur constituency did not meet the criteria of 75% functional electorate was factually incorrect, for five new recently created municipal councils in the district were taken into consideration. He contended that no elections have been held for the new municipal councils and if they were excluded from the zone of consideration, the functional electorate (elected representatives of local bodies) in the constituency would be 82.82%.
The contention, however, failed to impress upon the division bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Madhav Jamdar. The bench dismissed Balorgi’s petition on Monday. The bench said once a municipal council is constituted, it is difficult to see how it can be “excluded” from the computation for the purposes of reckoning a number of electors. “Indeed, we perceive a wholesale failure of logic in this argument,” said the bench.
HC clarified that if these newly formed councils were to be excluded today, and an election from the Solapur constituency was directed to be held, then, in a few months, when the newly-formed councils have their electors, there will be no possibility of an election to the Solapur constituency, for the election will already have been done — and the newly formed councils would be entirely disenfranchised.
Instead, the court said, if Solapur is excluded for the present, then, once the electors for the newly-formed councils are formed, the election process can begin.