The Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation to accept the resignation of its employee Rutuja R. Latke – who will be the Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray party nominee for the November 3 bypolls to Andheri East Assembly constituency.
Latke is the widow of the erstwhile Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, who passed away in Dubai in May, necessitating the byelections, and the verdict has come as a huge psychological relief to the Sena-UBT.
A civic employee, Latke had quit her job in the BMC in September – a mandatory requirement – to enable her contest the bypolls as a Sena-UBT candidate.
However, the BMC had refused to accept her resignation, after which she moved the high court for relief.
A division bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sharmila Deshmukh directed the BMC to issue a “resignation acceptance letter” to Latke by 11 a.m. on Friday.
Friday is the last day to file nominations for the Andheri East assembly bypolls and now the path is clear for Latke to file her papers.
The BMC’s lawyer, senior advocate Anil Sakhar had strongly opposed Latke’s plea arguing that she had submitted her resignation on October 3 and wanted the one-month notice period to be relaxed.
While this would be at the discretion of the Municipal Commissioner, he claimed that a complaint of alleged corruption was received against Latke on Wednesday, which the Municipal Commissioner would have to consider.
At one point, Justice Jamdar asked the BMC what was its problem if any employee wanted to quit and contest elections.
Latke’s lawyer Vishwajeet Sawant pointed out that in the past the BMC accepted the resignation of its employees without even asking for the reasons, and questioned the alleged complaint against Latke.
“The complaint is a manufactured document, evidence of malafide. It’s not on a printed letterhead, the date is changed, the complainant is from Andheri West and is not concerned with the petitioner (Latke),” he said.
In her plea, Latke said that she had fulfilled all the conditions, including paying a penalty for the waiver of the notice period, and other formalities but the BMC had not given her the relieving letter, because she was planning to contest the by-elections.
Sena-UBT President Uddhav Thackeray welcomed the verdict but rued how in the current political circumstances, they are forced to knock the doors of the court for every issue.
Senior party leader Anil Parab said that all these years the BMC had no problems against Latke, but after she decided to quit and contest the polls, an alleged graft complaint was suddenly received by the BMC.
“This shows to what level politics had plummeted, but we are thankful to the court for giving us justice. Latke will file her nomination papers tomorrow and we shall ensure her thumping victory,” he said.