Mumbai: The Bombay High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging erstwhile Maharashtra opposition party Shiv Sena joining the present BJP-led state government, saying the petition is “misconceived”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah said the court has rejected the PIL which was filed by journalist-turned- activist Ketan Tirodkar.
The petition said Sena’s move to join the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government is against the rules of the Assembly since members of the opposition party cannot switch over to the treasury benches, at least for six months after a trust vote is won.
The BJP-led Maharashtra government had opposed the PIL saying it was not in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution.
Advocate General Sunil Manohar, representing Maharashtra state, had argued that there is no rule which prevented an opposition party from joining the ruling benches.
The petition said Shiv Sena had been in the opposition earlier but joined the government recently with ten of its legislators becoming ministers.
The PIL had prayed to the High Court to direct Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde and Chief Minister Fadnavis to frame rules to prevent Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, the Leader of Opposition until recently, from taking up any ministerial post for a period of six months.
In a recent cabinet expansion, Shinde was made the Minister of Public Works (Public Undertakings) by the Chief Minister.
The Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government won a trust motion in a voice vote in the Assembly on November 2014, when Shinde was the Leader of Opposition. Hence the step of Shiv Sena joining the BJP-led Maharashtra government is “illegal”, the petitioner had contended.
“Once a trust motion was passed in the Assembly, the government is not required to prove its majority again for a period of six months, according to rules. Hence, a no-trust motion (if any) cannot be brought within six months from the date of the earlier motion (that is, the trust vote held on November 12),” the petition said.
The PIL said that since the ruling party cannot be unseated within the next six months, an opposition party too cannot change its status within the same period and switch over to treasury benches “and that too for the sake of Cabinet berths.”