The state government’s decision to increase the number of seats reserved for women in the civic body from 33% to 50% from April 2011 was upheld by the Bombay high court on Wednesday. The court dismissed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the decision.
“If the state legislature in its wisdom finds it necessary to increase the number of reserved seats for women in order to encourage them to actively participate in civic affairs and electoral politics, and when the state legislature is within its competence in doing so, this court cannot strike down the amendment,” the division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Mridula Bhatkar said.
The court rejected the petition filed by Andheri resident Kapoorchand Gupta primarily taking into consideration the larger social interest of women’s upliftment intended through the legislation.
Gupta had challenged the constitutional validity of an amendment in section 5 (A) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act of 1888 brought into effect from April 13, 2011. The amendment increased the number of seats reserved for women in civic bodies from one-third to half.
Gupta had challenged the validity of the amendment primarily contending it was brought about without proper application of mind and was not based on any scientific data. According to him, the state could have increased seats reserved as per local social requirement, which he felt were different in urban areas and in rural parts of the state.
The judges, however, discarded this contention saying no material was placed before them suggesting women in urban centers were more advanced as compared to women from rural parts, and therefore required comparatively lesser protection by way of reservation. The court has, however, left it to legislature to review the percentage of seats reserved periodically.