Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

The Maharashtra government has said that the Governor should nominate persons to the post of Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) keeping aside any political issue he may or may not have with the Chief Minister.

The Bombay high court is hearing a public interest litigation filed by a Nashik-resident Ratan Luth praying that the Governor should expeditiously nominate MLCs as recommended by the council of ministers. The posts of 12 MLCs is lying vacant since June 2020.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni, on Friday, asked Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh representing the Union government to file their reply by July 19.

During the hearing, government’s counsel Rafiq Dada, argued, “The governor ought to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers keeping aside any political issues or issues he may or may not have with the CM (Chief Minister). The Governor cannot just sit tight on the file.”

Alleging that it was a complete inaction on the part of the Governor, Dada argued that the high court can pass a direction (asking the Governor to nominate MLCs).

Dada further argued that the advice of minister of councils has to be implemented in 15 days. “However, till date the Governor has not taken any decision on the recommendation,” added Dada.

The state government has argued that the power of the Governor to make these nominations does not fall in the category of the ‘discretionary powers’ conferred on the Governor. “The Governor has to exercise this power of nomination strictly in accordance with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers,” reads the government’s affidavit.

In this case, some of the posts fell vacant in June 2020. The council of ministers sent their recommendation to the Governor in November 2020, reads the affidavit filed by Maharashtra government.

During the hearing, the chief justice asked Aspi Chenoy, Ruth’s counsel, whether the Governor’s actions or actions come under the judicial purview. “Can you show us one judgement (from other high courts or the Supreme Court) in a case where the Governor was allegedly inactive and the judiciary can interfere?” the chief justice asked Chenoy.

Chenoy clarified that the case was not of inaction but of following mandate wherein the Governor has to act on the recommendation of the council of ministers. “He is mandated to act on the advice or send back the matter. The governor is ‘bound’ to nominate,” said Chenoy.

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