Mumbai: Expressing displeasure over the decision of Thane Mayor Harishchandra Patil to appoint INC leader Manoj Shinde as Leader of Opposition in Thane Municipal Corporation, the Bombay High Court has directed for removal of Shinde as his party did not have largest strength in the House.
The High Court has directed for appointment of NCP leader Sanjay Bhoir as Leader of Opposition as the party had strength of 34 members in comparison to 18 members of the Indian National Congress (INC).
A division bench of Justices S A Bobade and Mridula Bhatkar directed this while hearing a petition filed by Bhoir seeking to quash an order, dated April 19 this year, by which the mayor appointed Shinde as Leader of Opposition.
According to Bhoir, under section 19-IAA of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, the mayor has to appoint as Leader of Opposition the head of that party which has the greatest numerical strength.
"The section casts an obligation on the Mayor to determine which party in Opposition has the greatest numerical strength and then recognise the leader of that party as Leader of the Opposition. The law does not give the Mayor a choice as to who should be recognised as Leader of Opposition," the High Court observed.
The bench further said the petitioner`s arguments that the the mayor ought to have chosen the NCP party head as Leader of Opposition since it is the party which had the greatest numerical strength deserves to be accepted.
"Admittedly, the Mayor did not make any effort on his part to ascertain the relative numerical strength of the parties in Opposition. The section 19-IAA casts a solemn duty on the Mayor to ascertain the relative numerical strength and does not confer a choice him to appoint anyone as Leader of Opposition," the bench said.
Directing for immediate appointment of the petitioner as Leader of Opposition, the High Court also refused to stay its order so as to allow the respondents to approach the apex court.