The Bombay High Court has held that “the Chief Minister (CM) has no has no supervisory power to interfere with the orders of the concerned Minister” and hence cannot review or modify the decisions taken by his cabinet colleagues.
A division bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki Menezes of the Nagpur bench of HC observed on March 3: “The chief minister has no independent power under the Rules of Business, and Instructions (issued under the Rules) to interfere with the department allocated to the minister in-charge.”
The judges observed that under the Rules of Business and Instructions prevailing in Maharashtra, the CM had “no authority or power to supervise” work ministers with independent charges, “nor do the Rules indicate that the ministers are subordinate to the chief minister” as regards functioning of the departments assigned to them.”
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Chandrapur District Central Co-operative Bank challenging the order passed by the CM on November 29, 2022. The bank is functioning under the licence of the Reserve Bank of India and is not funded by the State Government.
According to the bank, since 393 posts were lying vacant across its 93 branches, in November 2021 its board of directors passed a resolution to fill the posts.
The bank issued an advertisement and started the recruitment process after receiving approval from the divisional joint registrar on February 25, 2022.
However, after the local MP from Bhadrawati Constituency started complaining about the recruitment, the divisional joint registrar passed an order on May 12, 2022 and stayed the recruitment process.
The bank then made a representation before the minister of co-operation on November 23, 2022, who vacated the stay and allowed the bank to proceed with the recruitment.
However, six days later, the chief minister restored the stay based on a complaint lodged by two political opponents of the bank’s chairman, Santoshsingh Rawat.
In its plea before the HC, the bank said that the CM had no jurisdiction to interfere with the functioning of the co-operatives department and as such nopowers to stay the recruitment, specifically allowed by the minister with independent charge of the department.
Agreeing with the bank’s arguments, the HC said that “the chief minister has no independent power assigned under the Rules of Business and Instructions issued thereunder to review or modify the decision taken by the concerned in-charge minister”.
The bench clarified that though the order granting permission for recruitment is administrative in nature and as such it can be reviewed, but it can be done only by the minister in-charge of the department.
“The intervention of the chief minister is not authorised under the Rules of Business, and the Instructions issued thereunder. The intervention of the chief minister is wholly unwarranted and without the authority of law,” averred the bench while quashing the CM’s order.
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