The Bombay High Court Monday refused to grant interim relief in a BJP worker’s plea seeking a stay on the Maharashtra Cabinet’s decision recommending Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s nomination as Member of Legislative Council (MLC).
A single-judge bench of Justice S J Kathawalla was hearing a plea by Ramkrishnan Pillay challenging the April 9 decision of the State Council of Ministers while claiming the Cabinet meeting was illegally convened. .
The Maharashtra Cabinet had, in the April 9 meeting, recommended to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to nominate Thackeray as a member of the Legislative Council through the Governor quota to avoid a constitutional crisis amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to Article 164 (4) of the Constitution, any minister who is not a member of the House needs to become member of the legislature within six months of appointment. Thackeray who was sworn in on November 28 has time till May 27 to get elected to the legislature, failing which he will have to step down as the CM.
In view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission had deferred the elections to the nine legislative council seats that will fall vacant on April 24. This includes two from Congress, three each from the NCP and BJP and one from Shiv Sena.
The cabinet meeting was chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar; Thackeray did not attend the meeting. Two seats from Governor quota are vacant at present.
Pillay, member of Maharashtra BJP working committee, who filed a writ plea through senior counsel Atul G Damle and advocate Vijay Killedar argued that the cabinet meeting was not headed by Chief Minister Thackeray and, therefore, such advice is illegal in view of the constitutional provisions under Article 163. Pillay also claimed that Uddhav Thackeray had not delegated powers to Ajit Pawar to convene and preside over the meeting.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state, however, said the plea was not maintainable.
After hearing submissions, Justice Kathawalla noted that the Governor has not yet taken any decision on the proposal and he is to consider whether the recommendation is valid in law.
The bench said that its interference at this stage is not required as it would amount to preventing the Governor from taking any independent decision on the validity recommendation made by the cabinet.
“The reliefs sought in the Writ Petition therefore appear to be premature. The Petitioner at this stage is not entitled to any urgent reliefs,” Justice Kathawalla noted in the order.