Mumbai: The Bombay High Court recently came down heavily on the Maharashtra government over its apparently ‘lame’ excuse for not complying with the court orders. The court expressed shock at the reasoning given by the officials of the Vimukta Jati, Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Class and Special Backward Class (VJ, NT, OBC and SBC) Welfare Department of the government.
The officials were present before a division bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre, and cited the ‘monsoon session’ of the state assembly as the reason for their ‘inability’ to implement the earlier orders passed by the bench. The officials submitted, “Since the assembly is meeting in its monsoon session at Nagpur and not at Mumbai, the entire staff has been summoned to Nagpur. There is only one person available in the department at Mantr-alaya, hence, it will not be po-ssible for the department to implement the court orders.”
The bench was taken aback for a moment after hearing the reason cited by the government officials. Irked by this, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “We are shocked and surprised that such a reason has been stated before us. We understand that there is a difference between executive governance and when political bosses meet and transact business in the legislature.”
“If legislative assembly sessions are being held outside Mumbai that does not mean that the Headquarters at Mantralya, Mumbai, are non-functional or virtually empty. This state of affairs surely would not work well for the reputation of the state,” Justice Dharmadhikari added. The bench accordingly clarified that it would not adjourn matters over such lame and strange excuses.
“We will not adjourn matters if officers are not available in Mumbai and at the principal seat. We would not hesitate to summon officers from Nagpur, if their presence is required to comply with the orders and directions of this Court,” the bench said, adding, “Then, we may be harsh enough not to give more than 24 hours time to these officials to come to Mumbai and appear before this court. We are sure that the chief secretary would not compel us to pass such orders hereinafter merely because the state legislature is in session, wherever.”
The bench was hearing a plea filed by the Association of Management of Agriculture and Agriculture Allied colleges from Nasik, seeking reimbursement of the fees paid by students belonging to the reserved categories for last few academic years. The government has been dilly-dallying over the pleas since last three years. The association consisting of nearly nine colleges have claimed a total amount of Rs 4,21,62,890.
Posting the matter for further hearing on July 19, the bench said, “We want the concerned official, to process every single paper and file and pass an order in two weeks. If he fails to do so we will not hesitate to deprive him of his monthly salary and emoluments.”