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Election –  total 87 Councillors, the Nationalist Congress  Party  with  17,  Muslim League with 2, R.P.I. with 1, Samajwadi Party  with  1  and  2  Independents formed an aghadi (group) and elected the first  respondent  as  their  group leader (Gat Neta).- the same was approved – change of leader by one political party -maintainable ? – No-  Once an aghadi (group) is formed  and  duly  recognized  by  the  Divisional Commissioner, it becomes a municipal party in terms of Section 2(i)  of  the Act. Once original political parties form a municipal party  by  way  of  an aghadi, for all purposes, the group leader is chosen by the municipal  party (aghadi) only.  Rules  do  not  provide  for  nomination  of  group  leader. Similarly, the group leader of the aghadi can be changed only by  the  group and not by one of the political parties, big  or  small,  belonging  to  the aghadi-2015 S.C.MSKLAWREPORTS

Election to the Amravati Municipal Corporation was held  on  16.02.2012.  Of

the total 87 Councillors, the Nationalist Congress  Party  with  17,  Muslim

League with 2, R.P.I. with 1, Samajwadi Party  with  1  and  2  Independents

formed an aghadi (group) and elected the first  respondent  as  their  group

leader (Gat Neta). On 06.03.2012, the 23  members  submitted  the  following

application to the Divisional Commissioner, Amravati  for  approval  of  the

alliance and registration of the group leader:    

The request was granted and,  by  order  dated  11.04.2012,  the  group  was

recognized and the first respondent was registered as the group leader.     

Seeking a change of the leader, the General  Secretary  of  the  Nationalist

Congress Party,  on  22.03.2014,  addressed  the  following  letter  to  the

Divisional Commissioner, relevant port of which reads as follows:

“Subject:-  Nomination of the Group Leader of the  alliance  of  Nationalist

Congress Party in Amravati Municipal Corporation, Amravati.

Res / Sir,

      The Honourable Shri Bhashkarraoji Jadhao, the  President,  Maharashtra

Regional Nationalist Congress Party has been pleased to instruct  that  Shri

Sunil Haribhau Kale be nominated as a Group Leader of the  alliance  of  the

Nationalist  Congress  Party  (NCP)  in  Amravati   Municipal   Corporation,

Amravati; and that the group under  his  leadership  only  be  approved  of.

Hence, it is requested to take the necessary action, accordingly.

      Thanking you,

                                                            Yours sincerely,

                                                                        Sd/-

                                                           Shivajirao Garje.

To,

The Divisional Commissioner,

Amravati Division, Amravati.”

                                                         (Emphasis supplied)

The Divisional Commissioner,  by  order  dated  16.06.2014,  registered  the

appellant herein as the group leader based on the letter  of  the  Secretary

of the Nationalist Congress Party. The relevant portion of the  order  reads

as follows:

“… It appears that from the letter of Shri  Shivajirao  Garje  appointment

of Shri Sunil Kale has been made as Group Leader of the  Party  in  Amravati

Municipal Corporation.  There is a prevailing  system  of  appointing  group

leaders/parted on the  elected  groups  of  all  political  parties  by  the

political parties themselves.  Under these circumstances giving approval  to

the appointment of Shri Sunil Kale on the post of Group  Leader  appears  to

be correct.

Hence by way of rejecting the application of  the  applicant  Name  of  Shri

Sunil Haribhau Kale is being  registered  as  Group  Leader  of  Rashtravadi

Congress Party in Amravati Municipal Corporation. …”

                                                         (Emphasis supplied)=

Once  the  Rules  provide

for the election of the group leader, it has to be done in that manner  only

and not in any other manner, even when there is change of  the  leader.  

The

change of leader has to be in the same democratic process of  induction,  in

the absence of any other method prescribed under the Rules concerned.

Once an aghadi (group) is formed  and  duly  recognized  by  the  Divisional

Commissioner, it becomes a municipal party in terms of Section 2(i)  of  the

Act.

 Once original political parties form a municipal party  by  way  of  an

aghadi, for all purposes, the group leader is chosen by the municipal  party

(aghadi) only.  Rules  do  not  provide  for  nomination  of  group  leader.

Similarly, the group leader of the aghadi can be changed only by  the  group

and not by one of the political parties, big  or  small,  belonging  to  the

aghadi. In a democracy, a leader is not imposed;  leader  is  elected.  Once

the birth of a leader in a group is by way of election  by  the  group,  the

group leader thus elected cannot be  replaced  otherwise  than  through  the

very same process of the election in the group, in the absence of any  rules

to the contra. No doubt, the Nationalist Congress Party has  17  members  in

the aghadi (group). That does not mean that the  said  party  can  impose  a

group leader in the aghadi. Imposition of a group leader otherwise  than  by

the democratic process cuts at the roots of the democracy and  certainly  it

is in violation of the Rules. It is always open to  the  original  political

parties to have their respective leaders in the aghadi. However, as  far  as

group leader is concerned, he has to be elected by the aghadi (group).

Thus, although for a few other different reasons as well, apart  from  those

sounded by the High Court in the impugned order,  we  agree  with  the  view

taken by the High Court. The appeal hence is dismissed.  The  interim  order

dated 05.09.2014 is vacated.-2015 S.C. MSKLAWREPORTS

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