Justice Oka row leaves Fadnavis red-faced

With the division bench headed by Justice Oka demanding that the government must now submit its unconditional apology before CJ Chellur, expressing remorse for its conduct, there was an intense debate in political circles on whether the Fadnavis govt would tender an unconditional apology in writing.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: August 29, 2017 3:37 am
justice oka, devendra fadnavis, maharashtra, bombay high court, judge oka bias case, maharashtra law dept, indian express Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (File)

THE row over the state government’s allegations against Justice A S Oka may well turn out to be a personal embarrassment for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Both the home and law departments of the state, which are led by the chief minister, have invited flak from legal luminaries for “mishandling” the matter.

With the division bench headed by Justice Oka demanding that the government must now submit its unconditional apology before Chief Justice Manjulla Chellur, expressing remorse for its conduct, there was an intense debate in political circles on whether the Fadnavis government would tender an unconditional apology in writing.

Representing the government in the court on Monday, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni apologised to the court after the government withdrew the allegations raised against the senior judge, but the division bench was not satisfied with it alone. Kumbakoni has now taken the position that the government will file an affidavit before the CJ on Tuesday, as directed by the court.

The Congress in Opposition has already demanded that the chief minister should personally tender a public apology.

READ | Maharashtra govt says sorry for accusing HC judge of ‘bias’

While the chief minister remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him, a senior government official admitted that the government had mishandled the situation. Requesting anonymity, a senior government official said the government was wary that the enforcement of the division bench’s August 16, 2016 order regarding implementation of silence zone norms near schools, colleges and hospitals would have created law and order issues during the ongoing Ganeshotsav.

But the source admitted the government’s approach in overcoming it had been flawed. Two years ago, the government was in a similar fix over another judgment by Justice Oka related to performing of religious rituals along riverbeds, but the same government had adopted a different approach.

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