Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari

On whether or not to lay guidelines for the governor to follow while appointing the members of legislative council (MLC) nominated by the chief minister, the Bombay High Court has issued a notice to the attorney general of India, asking him to make submissions on this short point of law.

A bench of Justices Ramesh Dhanuka and Madhav Jamdar has asked the attorney general to clarify his say on this point on January 14.

The issues came to light following the decision of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to nominate Urmila Matondkar from Shiv Sena, Eknath Khadse from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and a few others from the Congress party from the quota reserved for people from the field of arts and other related sectors.

A plea has been filed by activist Shivaji Patil, through his advocate Satish Talekar, seeking an injunction against appointment of these nominees as MLCs "since these recommendations are made due to political patronage and based on certain extraneous considerations."

The plea highlights the case of Eknath Khadse, who, it says was a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) till 2014 and lost the contest after a striking defeat in 2019. The plea points out that Khadse recently joined the NCP with "an understanding that he would be given a ticket for MLC seat."

Similarly, the plea emphasised Matondkar's case, saying she lost the Lok Sabha polls last year from a Congress ticket and is now being nominated from the Shiv Sena.

According to Talekar, there are no rules and regulations prescribing the mode, manner and basis of selection for nomination of the members to the state's legislative council by the governor. He argued that the laws that make it mandatory for the governor to appoint those nominated by the CM are in contravention to the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

To buttress his case, Talekar has also cited certain rulings of the Supreme Court, which spell out the "powers of a court of law" to lay such guidelines in absence of any specific norms.

Notably, the Maharashtra government, through advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, has vehemently opposed the plea.

Having heard the contentions, the judges found it necessary to hear the submissions from the attorney general of India on this issue. The judges, accordingly, issued a notice to the attorney general, asking him to make his submissions by January 14.

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