In a major setback for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Navi Mumbai, three NCP corporators from Digha — Aparna Gavate, Naveen Gavate and Deepa Gavate — who were allegedly involved in unauthorised constructions in Digha were disqualified by municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe on Tuesday.
The disqualification of Gavates has reduced the NCP numbers in the Navi Mumbai civic body to 49 from 52. NCP in alliance with 10 Congress corporators and 5 independents has so far managed to cross the magical mark of 56 which is required for having absolute majority in the House.
The decision was pending for over a month after the hearing in the matter had concluded. RTI activist Rajeev Mishra, who has filed PIL in the Bombay High Court against unauthorised constructions in Digha had sought disqualification of these three corporators. He had submitted a letter to the then municipal commissioner DT Waghmare.
A written demand to disqualify the trio was sent to municipal commissioner on September 3, 2015. The high court has taken serious view of mushrooming illegal buildings in the satellite city and had asked three agencies — NMMC, Cidco and MIDC — to demolish such structures standing on their respective lands.
During the final hearing, Gavates’ lawyers made strong arguments before municipal commissioner Mundhe, stating that municipal commissioner had no powers to disqualify the elected representative. They also tried to create doubt that the land on which the building stood was not government land and that the corporator can be disqualified only for the period when the unauthorised construction was carried out.
Mishra had argued that the 2005 government order clearly states that municipal commissioner has powers to disqualify the corporators who carry out unauthorised constructions. The Bombay high court has declared these constructions unauthorised in December 2015. Before hearing with the municipal commissioner began, Gavates had approached the Bombay high court which refused to grant them any relief and stay the proceedings.
The Bombay HC observed that the corporators can appeal after the order of commissioner is passed in the matter.
A circular issued by the law department of state government states that the municipal commissioner, unless and until there is a point of law which requires clarification, should act at his own level and decide on disqualification of tainted corporators.