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Mumbai: Government says Maharashtra Local Development Funds are not allocated to MLAs or MLCs

Mumbai: Govt tells HC ‘Allocation of funds for basic amenities in slums is made to constituencies | Representative Image

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that the allocation of Maharashtra Local Development Funds (MLDF) for providing basic amenities in slums is not made to Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) or Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) but is made to the constituencies. 

The submission was made by Advocate General Birendra Saraf before a division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and RN Laddha which is hearing a petition filed by Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Ravindra Waikar from Jogeshwari East constituency, through advocate Satish Borulkar, alleging discrimination on the part of the Maharashtra government in allocating “Maharashtra Local Development Funds” which are meant for providing basic amenities and development of basic infrastructure in the city. 

HC: File a comprehensive affidavit instead of the “hurriedly” filed affidavit

Earlier on March 30, the HC had stayed disbursal of the remaining MLDF till Wednesday. The HC has continued the stay on its disbursal till further orders. The court even asked the government to file a comprehensive affidavit instead of the “hurriedly” filed affidavits, which was allowed to be withdrawn. The state had filed two affidavits – one by Deputy Secretary, Urban Development Department, Shrikant Andge and the other by District Planning Officer Bhushan Deshpande both opposing the petition and contending that the petition was PILs in nature. 

“We are not running away from anything that the court wants on affidavit,” says Saraf

During the hearing on Wednesday, said that it is wrong to say that the funds are allocated to the MLAs or MLCs. They are allocated to constituencies. “I have said it on affidavit that the funds are for constituencies,” said Saraf.

To this the judges remarked that the affidavits seemed to have been filed hurriedly and did not deal with the petition in detail. 

“Affidavits are prepared too hurriedly. It is filed after our last order (staying disbursal of remaining funds) Possibly there was no intention to file the affidavit,” quipped justice Kulkarni. 

When the judges remarked that the state government had not filed the affidavits replying to every paragraph of the petition, Saraf said: “We are not running away from anything that the court wants on affidavit.” 

Next hearing on April 18

The government has also raised objection to Waikar’s petition saying that he should have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) since it was espousing a cause of people in his constituency. “He is espousing the cause as a representative of people of that area. This is not personal interest as such. It is for the public of that area. Nothing in petition states otherwise how his personal interest is affected. Political interest can’t be private interest,” argued Saraf. 

Borulkar argued that there was discrimination in allocation of funds and that the ruling party had allocated more funds to its MLAs. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on April 18.

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