The Bombay High Court issued notice to the Advocate General of State of Maharashtra, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni in a plea challenging an Act passed by the Eknath Shinde led government reducing the number of directly elected councillors within the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) limits from 236 to 227 [Raju Sripad Pednekar v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]..A bench of Justices GS Patel and Gauri Godse at the outset stated that since the plea was a constitutional challenge to an Act passed by the State, it would be necessary to issue notice to the Advocate General of the State of Maharashtra. The plea was filed by ex-BMC councillor Raju Pednekar through advocates Nazneen Ichhaporia and Sunny Jain challenging the ordinance passed by the cabinet. It was informed during the hearing today that the ordinance had been promulgated into an Act on September 8. Accordingly, the Bench granted liberty to Pednekar to amend his petition and challenge the Act. The petition will be heard next on November 30. .The petition pointed out that to ensure that the increased population was proportionately represented in BMC, the Maharashtra government had in 2021 increased the number of directly elected councillors by 9, bringing the number to 236. This was challenged before the High Court which proceeded to dismiss those petitions. The High Court held that the increase in number of councillors was proportionate to the increase in population based on 2011 census. Incidentally, in that hearing, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had appeared on behalf of the erstwhile government and justified the act of increasing the number of councillors.This was upheld by the Supreme Court..Thereafter, the government changed in June of this year and the new government reversed the earlier cabinet decision. The new government led by Eknath Shinde reduced the number of directly elected councillors back to 227. The government reasoned that since the 2021 census had not been undertaken, the earlier cabinet could not have based their decision on the 2011 census. The new ordinance was challenged by the present petition in Supreme Court who granted the petitioner liberty to approach the High Court first. After this, the present petition was filed and mentioned for urgent listing by Advocate Joel Carlos..The ordinance under challenge is ex-facie illegal and unconstitutional as it purports to defeat and nullify the orders of the Supreme Court, the petition said.The elections to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation are already overdue by more than 6 months and if the ordinance is not stayed, then the State Election Commission will not be able to conduct BMC elections, the plea has contended..The plea was mentioned urgently seeking interim stay on the ordinance and directions to SEC to conduct the elections as per the delimitation exercise of the earlier government. The plea also sought quashing of the new ordinance of 2022 on the ground that it is ultra vires the Constitution..Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy and Advocate Joel Carlos appeared for the petitioner.Senior Advocate SU Kamdar appeared for the Urban Development Department, while Advocate Ranjit Thorat appeared for the principal secretary of the department. Advocate Sachin Shete appeared for State Election Commission.