New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday said in politics the equation of friends is very dynamic, and legal rights cannot be dependent on the relationship between parties. The top court dismissed a plea by a BJP leader seeking the Leader of Opposition (LoP) post in the Greater Mumbai civic body, which it had refused in 2017 due its coalition with the Shiv Sena.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said: “This is an everyday phenomenon in politics. Today you may be friends, tomorrow you may not. Legal rights cannot be dependent on relation between parties. LoP post cannot be claimed on mere change of heart.”
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing BJP Councillor Prabhakar Tukaram Shinde, argued that the Congress, which is in coalition with ruling party Shiv Sena in the state, should not get the LoP post. The bench declined to entertain this line of argument and dismissed the plea. As a result, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai will have the Congress as the Opposition despite its alliance with the Shiv Sena at the state level.
In the 2017 municipal election, the BJP had got 82 seats and the Congress 31. Shinde, who moved the top court through advocate Hitesh Jain, contended that after the 2017 elections to the Mumbai civic body, the BJP emerged as the second-largest party after the Shiv Sena. In the backdrop of its alliance with the Shiv Sena then, the BJP had declined the status of LoP, and as a result the position went to the Congress party. Since the political dynamics have changed in Maharashtra, the BJP raised the demand for LoP post, as the ‘Maha Vikas Agadi’ coalition had begun to govern Maharashtra after the 2019 assembly polls.
Shinde, who is the leader of the BJP group seeking LoP status, moved the top court after the Bombay High Court declined to grant him any relief citing that the BJP had voluntarily given up the LoP status. “In the present case, the BJP group, the second-largest group, which had earlier decided to stay neutral in the MCGM has now decided to take over the role of the principal opposition group therein. Therefore, the dynamics pertaining to the party with greatest numerical strength in the opposition has changed with BJP group replacing the INC group”, said his plea.