The dismissal of state government’s revision petition by the high court on merger of parts of areas with Jabalpur and Chhindwara municipalities may lead to delay in conduct of civic elections in Bhopal, said experts.
The state government had challenged the high court order that had declared the process undertaken for extension of boundaries of the municipal corporations of Jabalpur and Chhindwara as illegal.
Extension of Bhopal Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) boundaries had also been carried out the same way as Jabalpur and Chhindwara and when two petitions are challenging the manner in which it was done on October 31 before the same bench of the high court, the court in all likelihood would declare merger of Kolar Municipal Council and 20 more villages into BMC as illegal.
This would necessitate a fresh exercise for extension of BMC’s area in the light of high court order, which in turn may lead to delay in civic polls in Bhopal as well, said experts.
In its original order, the court had held the process adopted for extension of boundaries of the municipal bodies as illegal on the ground that district collectors, who had considered and disposed of objections received over proposed extension, had no jurisdiction to do it under the Municipal Act and power to do it rested with the governor.
With the civic polls round the corner, state government urgently filed a revision petition against the order. But the division bench of chief justice Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice SS Khemkar dismissed the petition on Tuesday.
The same judges would decide two petitions filed by former MLA PC Sharma and Amitabh Agnihotri, who is fighting against merger of Kolar Municipal Council into the BMC, on October 31.
Both the petitioners have objected to the process adopted for extension of BMC’s boundaries and have prayed the court to cancel the July 18, 2014, notification seeking to merge Kolar Municipal Council and areas under 141 more villages into BMC.
However, the final notification issued after disposal of objections received from different quarters, only 20 villages were merged into the BMC.
Significantly, it was district collector who disposed of the objections, something held illegal by the court in the matter of Jabalpur and Chhindwara municipal bodies. Counsel for Amitabh Agnihotri, Rajendra Mishra, however, said their petition has sought court’s intervention in more than one issue.
"It’s not only the process adopted for disposal of objections to the proposed extension of area that we have challenged but merger of Kolar is also an important issue. The court has only partly allowed the petition regarding Chhindwara and Jabalpur. It’s the final notification on extension of boundaries that the court has held null and void but not the original notification, where proposal on extension of area had been put forth and objections invited over it," he said, adding: "We have prayed for cancellation of original notification itself in the case of Bhopal. That’s why it was not clubbed with Jabalpur and Chhindwara petitions."
Bhopal collector Nishant Warwade said, "If the HC decision comes, the state government would take a decision on future course of action."