The bye-elections for the Teachers Constituency to Senate of University of Mumbai has been stayed by the Bombay High Court on Tuesday. Vacation judge, Justice Roshan Dalvi while staying the bye-elections has directed the University to correct the electoral roll first before conducting the elections.
University of Mumbai College Principal's Association had challenged the bye-election process, which was to be conducted on January 12 stating that conduct of bye-elections was not legal as it violated the Maharashtra University Act, 1994.
On July 20, 2006, Chancellor SM Krishna had set aside the election of 17 of the 20 teachers to the Senate and asked the government to conduct an enquiry against the university officials involved in the deletion of 409 names from the electoral roll to the senate elections.
Krishna had declared the elections of 17 teachers to the senate from the Teachers Constituency as null and void because the university election officials had allegedly violated the statutes of the Maharashtra Universities Act. Krishna had therefore asked for fresh elections.
"As per the Statute 361 of the University of Mumbai, the Vice-Chancellor has the authority to correct the electoral roll, if any omissions or wrong entries are brought to his notice at least 15 days before the date of election," said Nitin Deshpande, counsel for the Principal's Association.
However, substantial changes were made in the electoral rolls on two occasions - three days and one day prior to voting. While the elections were to be held on September 30, changes were made on September 27 and September 29.
As the alleged irregularity was brought to the notice of the Chancellor, he had set aside the elections of September 2005. However, a circular was issued last November declaring the bye-elections on January 12. This bye-election was challenged by the Principal's Association terming it as illegal because of the changed electoral roll - the reason why the elections were cancelled in the first place.
Though 20 members were elected, the election of only 17 teachers has been cancelled. Government Pleader Rui Rodrigues argued that this was so as three teachers - Sunita Khariwal, Hiren Dekate and Nitin Keni - were elected unopposed at the nomination stage itself.