The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government to reply to a plea challenging the decision of the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis, to stay orders related to appointments and developmental projects taken up by the earlier Uddhav Thackeray-led cabinet in June this year.
The bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and MS Karnik was hearing a petition that highlighted that the circulars stayed or canceled by the present government included projects worth thousands of crores.
Advocate SB Talekar for the petitioner said the decision of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to stay projects and schemes, especially those taken in the interest of Scheduled Castes, Tribes and Backward Classes was arbitrary, unwise and politically motivated.
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He pointed out that as soon as Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister, he decided to change all committees and whatever administrative decisions were taken, including the appointment of members.
He said through one order the cabinet had, stayed 12 government relations and removed project-level managing personnels.
He argued that the chairman of these committees was now the chief minister, who was a guardian minister. Interestingly, the CM was a member of the cabinet when these GRs were issued, Talekar remarked. He alleged that the new members that may be appointed would not be because of their merits but for their affiliation with the new government.
However, the bench sought clarity on whether the petition was public interest litigation or a writ petition espousing the cause of the person concerned. When Talekar responded that it was a writ petition, the court indicated that they would ask the state to respond to the government resolutions which concerned the petitioners.
Talekar then prayed for a status quo order but the court assured him, that since the matter was sub-judice, no explicit order was required.
Chief government pleader PP Kakade sought time at the outset to respond to the petition. After directing a reply, the matter was posted for hearing on August 17, 2022.
The petitioners Kishore Gajbhiye, Ramhari Shinde, Jagannath Abhyankar, Kishore Medhe, and Sanjay Lakhe Patil had stated in their plea that when the previous government led by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had taken the decision, at that time it was his cabinet which had taken the decision. The plea underscored that the decision taken by the Shinde-led government, which does not even have a cabinet, cannot stand legal scrutiny.
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