Putting an end to the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new Advocate General, the Maharashtra Government today told the Bombay High Court that it would fill up the coveted post by December 30. The post of Advocate General has been lying vacant since March this year after Srihari Aney resiged as AG. In his place, Rohit Deo was appointed as acting AG and he continues to represent the government in high court in this capacity.
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Deo today informed a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka that the state government would take a decision on the appointment of AG by December 30.
Taking the statement of Government on record, the bench deferred it to January 9 next year a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt seeking appointment of a new Advocate General.
The High Court had pulled up the state government early this month for its failure to appoint the Advocate General and had set a deadline of December 23 for the state to inform when it would fill up the coveted post. Today, the government said it would fill up this post by December 30 this year.
Neeraj Dhote, legal adviser and joint secretary, law and judiciary department, had filed an affidavit on December 8 assuring the court that “the state would appoint AG in accordance with the provisions contained in Article 165 of the Constitution of India, by the end of December 2016.”
The bench had earlier remarked “it is high time that the government appointed a new Advocate General to represent the state. Many constitutional and statutory functions (of the government) are suffering due to the non-appointment of AG and it affects the cause of justice as well as the public.”
Seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to appoint a regular Advocate General in place of the current acting Advocate General, Dutt’s petition submitted that the post of ‘acting Advocate General’ was unconstitutional. It demanded that the appointment of Advocate General should be made only as per the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution.
Dutt clarified that he was not questioning the integrity and professional capability of acting Deo, but said he wanted a direction to the state government to follow the constitutional provisions.
Deo was functioning as an acting AG since March, while under the Constitution no post of ‘acting AG’ exists, he submitted.
Dutt had also raised the issue in the state Legislature earlier, the petition said.
Deo was appointed as acting AG after previous Advocate General Srihari Aney was forced to resign. Aney’s open support for separate Vidarbha had incurred him the wrath of political parties, including the ruling ally Shiv Sena, which are opposed to the idea of statehood for the region.