A Division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice M.S. Sonak and Justice M.S.Jawalkar today directed the Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) to reconstitute within three months the Ward Committees strictly in accordance with law. The Court directions came after hearing the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues challenging the faulty constitution of the Ward Committees by the CCP. The CCP today informed the High Court that the order issued on 19th June constituting those seven Ward committees with 21 nominated members stands cancelled by an order issued on 28th August.
The High court today while disposing the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues gave the government two months to finalise the 2020 CCP Ward Committee rules while directing the CCP to constitute the Ward Committees within in a month thereafter.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues while challenging the constitution of the seven Ward Committees had asked the High Court to seek an explanation from the CCP and State the government as to how contrary to law 21 unqualified members were nominated on those committees.
Pointing out that Section 41 of the CCP Act mandates that the three non-official members on each ward committee must be from amongst the members of recognized non-Government Organizations and community based Organizations engaged in social welfare activities working within the area of that Ward Committee, Adv. Rodrigues drew the attention of the High Court that this mandatory requirement was not complied with by the CCP while the Mayor Uday Madkaikar appointed his non-matriculate brother Sandesh Madkaikar and that Rupesh Shirgaonkar the husband of Ward No 6 Corporator Shubhada Shirgaonkar was also taken on board.
While stating that none of the 21 appointed on those seven Ward committees had the requisite qualifications, Adv. Rodrigues also drew the attention of the High Court that the CCP itself had informed him that it did not have the details of qualifications and experience of each of those three nominated members on the seven constituted Ward Committees. While submitting that the constitution of the Ward committees done by the CCP was very unlawful and contrary to the statutory mandate, Adv. Rodrigues sought directions that the CCP to reconstitute the Ward committees in accordance with law.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues had earlier moved the High Court in February this year over the failure of the CCP for the last 18 years to constitute the Ward Committees as required under Section 41 of the CCP Act. The CCP on June 16th had assured the High Court that the Ward Committees would be constituted within 15 days in accordance with law.
In his petition Adv. Aires Rodrigues had sought High Court directions to immediately constitute Ward committees while pointing out that every provision of any law had to be enforced in toto as otherwise the authorities would be acting in rank breach of law.
Adv. Rodrigues in his petition had stated that in rank violation of law this very vital provision of Section 41 of the CCP Act had not been implemented to the detriment of Panaji and its residents.
Stating that Public participation is a vital part of democracy and it allows Citizens to get involved in how their communities are governed, Adv Rodrigues further stated that the Ward Committees envisaged by law would act as a crucial link between Ward Corporators, the community and the CCP while allowing members of the public to rightly influence the city’s much needed planning in a manner which best addresses their needs.
Adv. Rodrigues also stated that the Ward committees would help improve communication between the CCP and the community besides playing an important role in being a link between the public needs and the CCP planning processes and that members who serve on these Ward committees would be well placed to ensure that resources are allocated to the most pressing needs in the Wards.
Adv. Rodrigues further stated that the Ward committees would participate in determining core CCP processes such as Integrated Development Planning, CCP budgeting and its performance management besides helping make sure that financial transfers from Central and State government is used for the purposes they are intended for while ensuring that the people of Panaji get the best services on all fronts.