The State Election Commission (SEC) has been compelled to use 2001 Census figures for the 2012 civic elections in Mumbai, instead of the 2011 Census figures. This is because the population break-up required for delimitation of wards is not yet available for the 2011 Census.
“At least two years time would be required to furnish block-wise break-up of population, required for delimitation of wards of Mumbai Municipal Corporation,” DM Kaned, under secretary of the SEC, has stated in an affidavit.
The affidavit was filed on Monday before the Bombay high court in response to a petition filed by Andheri resident Rupesh Andhari.
It adds that the SEC had written to the census commissioner in March 2011 seeking block-wise break-up of the population before undertaking the exercise to reserve seats for the 2012 BMC elections.
The office of the census commissioner replied to the letter on April 6, stating that population break-up of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Class and block-wise population figures had not yet been finalised, and would take some time. “Therefore data of the 2001 Census, being the latest one, has been used for the 2012 elections,” the affidavit adds.
Andhari has challenged the validity of draws declaring ward reservations, apart from seeking directions to the SEC to determine the number of wards as required in proportion to the voting population as recorded in Census 2011, and fix boundaries of wards and determine proportionate number of reserved seats before declaring the draw for declaration of reservation for civic wards.
His counsels, AY Sakhare and Joel Carlos, had earlier argued the SEC had used figures of the latest census — the 2011 Census — for elections in neighbouring cities of Thane and Ulhasnagar, whereas the civic elections in Mumbai were going to be conducted on the basis of 2001 Census figures.
Alleging that the SEC action was discriminatory, senior advocate Sakhare had also argued the SEC could not have authorised the Additional Municipal Commissioner (elections) to go ahead with the draw declaring ward-wise reservation.
The AMC has declared ward-wise reservation after holding a draw on August 10, 2011. According to the petitioner, the SEC could not have authorised the AMC to hold the draw for declaration of ward-wise reservation before determining number of wards, fixing ward limits and earmarking the number of reserved seats.