Now, farmers can vote in APMC elections, HC issues order

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jun 2018 14:40:39


Staff Reporter,

Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Zaka Haq at Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court here held that the elections of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), Nagpur, will be held as per the amendment to APMC Act, thereby giving all eligible farmers a right to vote. The High Court had decided several writ petitions by order dated January 16, 2018, in which it had directed that elections to Nagpur APMC be conducted by fixing August 31, 2017 as the cut-off date and by publishing a fresh voter list on the basis of the said cut-off date. The court had directed the Government to complete the elections by March 31, 2018. However, the State Government and the aggrieved farmers filed review applications before the High Court.

State Government pointed out to the court that the re-promulgated ordinance was cleared by Legislative Assembly on December 11, 2017, and the Legislative Council cleared it on December 22, 2017. After the assent of the Governor of Maharashtra, the amended APMC Act was published in official gazette on January 17, 2018. The Government contended that the ordinance was converted into a primary legislation, thereby creating statutory right in favour of farmers to vote in the elections to Nagpur APMC. Also, the Government added, the said Act came into force with retrospective effect from June 13, 2017. The farmers also supported the State Government and prayed for review of order passed on January 16, 2018 by the High Court.

Adv A M Ghare and Adv Akshay Naik, who represented Ahmed Karimbhai and Vasantrao Landge, opposed the review petition by the Government and the farmers. They contended that the subsequent events could not be taken into consideration in a review petition. Also, they stated that ‘everything came to a standstill’ once the writ petitions were closed for judgment on November 15, 2017, and there could be no developments between the said date of closure and date of delivery of judgment. They requested the High Court that the elections to Nagpur Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee should be held without considering the amendment Act, and as per the old law. After hearing both the sides, the court held that invalidating of an ordinance did not have any effect on the legislation passed by the Legislature.

Further, the court held that the validity of the Amendment Act had not been questioned. The court observed that the Amendment Act was the ‘valid law in force’ and the elections would have to be conducted as per the valid law and not as per the old law. It upheld the State Government’s stand that the elections to Nagpur APMC should be held as per the amended APMC Act, thereby providing right to vote to all eligible farmers.

Senior Advocate M G Bhangade with AGP Adv Nivedita Mehta (State of Maharashtra), Adv R S Sundaram and Adv Ashok Raghute (farmers), Adv A M Ghare (Ahmed Karimbhai), Adv Akshay Naik (Vasantrao Landge), Adv S S Ghate (Commissioner, Maharashtra State Co-operative Society Election Authority), and Adv Sachin Sambre (APMC) appeared in the matter.