The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra government to file a reply on a petition challenging its decision to stay circulars relating to certain appointments and development projects taken up by the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) administration.
A division bench headed by Justice S V Gangapurwala, while directing for the reply affidavit to be filed by August 17, said it would like to know the reason (behind the decision).
Government pleader PP Kakade had sought time to respond to the plea which was allowed.
“We would like to know the reason…we may not go into the sufficiency of the reason,” the court said.
The petitioners’ lawyer, S B Talekar, then sought for an order of status quo. The bench, however, said no such order of status quo would be required as the matter is now sub-judice.
The petition, filed by five persons, some of them former Indian Administrative Service officers and social workers, said the present government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had issued four government resolutions (GRs) cancelling orders passed by the previous MVA dispensation headed by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
Eknath Shinde took oath as CM on June 30 along with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after the collapse the Shiv Sena-led coalition government. CM Shinde is yet to expand his two-member cabinet.
“The impugned resolutions are without jurisdiction and the Chief Minister is not empowered to stay or nullify the decisions of the earlier government, which were lawfully taken,” the plea said.
The petition said as per Article 164(1A) of the Constitution, there has to be not less than 12 ministers so as to constitute a Council of Ministers and at present the total number of ministers was only two (Mr Shinde and Mr Fadnavis).
“In the absence of a duly constituted Council of Ministers, the government ought not to have taken such major decisions of staying developmental projects and cancellation of appointments of members of statutory boards, commissions and committees,” said the petition, which challenged various resolutions passed between July 20 and 25.
By these resolutions, projects and tenders, the appointment of non-official members to statutory bodies, committees etc were stayed, it said.
“The decision to stay orders taken by the previous government is without any legitimate reason and passed in an arbitrary manner,” the plea said.
It claimed political leaders who have become ministers are not willing to give up control over the allocated finances and implementation of development schemes in order to suit their political philosophy, convenience and support base.
“The politicians in Maharashtra inspired by greed for power have given rise to the present-day turmoil, political instability, administrative vacuum and financial insecurity at all levels of administration in Maharashtra,” the plea said.
It further claimed ever since Mr Shinde and Mr Fadnavis took oath, they have been busy meeting the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and other BJP leaders to seek their blessings.
“The CM and the Deputy CM have held three or four meetings of their cabinet, in which they reversed important decisions of the previous government. This includes shifting of the Metro rail carshed back to Aarey Colony (in suburban Goregaon) and a clearance to the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project,” the petition said.
The plea has sought that the High Court quash the resolutions issued by the Shinde government between July 20 and July 25.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)