The unholy nexus between the ruling Shiv Sena and Congress in the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) came to an end on Friday as the Bombay high court (HC) struck down the decision of the mayor of Thane to appoint a Congress member as the leader of the opposition.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was the largest party in the opposition in the TMC. Acting on a petition filed by NCP group leader Sanjay Devram Bhoir, the division bench of justice SA Bobde and justice Mridula Bhatkar set aside Congress member Manoj Shinde's appointment as the leader of opposition, and directed the Thane mayor to nominate a member proposed by the NCP.
The Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations (BPMC) Act requires that the mayor should recognise a member nominated by the party or group having the greatest numerical strength in the opposition. But, the court found that in TMC's case, the mayor had not adhered to the mandate of law.
"In the present case, admittedly the mayor did not make any effort to find out which party in the opposition had the greatest numerical strength," observed the court.
Bhoir had approached the HC in April 2012 challenging the appointment of Shinde. His counsel, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, argued that the decision was ex-facie illegal and contrary to the provisions of the BPMC Act.
Kumbhakoni pointed out to the judges that while the NCP has won 34 seats in the recent general elections for the civic body, the Congress has won just 18 seats. He further pointed out that Shinde was neither the leader of a party within the civic body nor has he been put up by the NCP.