The two days monsoon session started on Monday on a stormy note, when the ruling and opposition parties had a heated war of words over the bill recommending the appointment of administrators for 14,234 gram panchayats, as the elections of the general body were not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill was moved by Rural Development Minister Hassan Mushrif, saying that private persons will not be appointed as administrators. "Sarpanchs cannot be given extension. We have appointed government officials as per the court directives. Now, 8 to 9 gram panchayats come under one administrator, due to which there is a chaotic situation," he said.
Mushrif said that the court also ordered that government officials will also not be allowed to be appointed as administrators.
The court has said such a mention should be made in the legislation, the minister said.
However, opposition legislators, led by Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, staged a walk in protest against the tabling of a bill to appoint administrators for gram panchayats whose term has expired.
Fadnavis said the matter is sub justice and the bill was contrary to the government's affidavit filed in the high court. "Make appointments as per high court's directives," he said.
Earlier, Mushrif, in an interview with the Free Press Journal, had said that the government has taken the decision based on the 73rd amendment to the Constitution, High Court and Supreme Court judgements delivered in the past and due to the present coronavirus pandemic. He clarified that the government cannot give extension to the general body of gram panchayats whose tenure has come to an end.
Mushrif said the decision to appoint administrators has not been taken with any political motive, but was the only option available in the present situation till the fresh elections are held. It is expected that the chief executive officer should appoint a suitable efficient person in a democratic way on the advice of the guardian minister. The government hopes the administrators will play a crucial role in the functioning of gram panchayats to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.