AFTER THE Bombay High Court, the Opposition on Tuesday tried to corner the government over the induction of former Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and NCP’s former MLA Jaydutt Kshirsagar into the Cabinet.
Raising the issue on the floor of the Assembly, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan alleged that their induction into the Cabinet was unconstitutional.
On the eve of the Monsoon Session of the Assembly, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had inducted 13 new ministers in his Cabinet, which included Vikhe-Patil and Kshirsagar, both of whom had to resign as members of the Legislative Assembly to switch over from the Opposition to the ruling side.
A Division Bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel had on Monday issued notices to Vikhe-Patil, Kshirsagar, and another newly inducted minister, Avinash Mahatekar, after admitting a petition filed by advocate Satish Talekar. The petition challenged their appointment as ministers on grounds that they were not members of either House of the state Legislature.
Chavan, on Tuesday, pointed out that the HC had also issued notices in this regard to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Fadnavis, and Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade.
Targetting Vikhe-Patil’s and Kshirsagar’s appointment in particular, Chavan alleged that the Constitution had provisions debarring defectors from any public office as a minister for the duration of the remaining term of the existing legislature or until the next fresh elections.
“Former prime minister (late) Atal Bihari Vajapayee’s government had amended the Constitution (91st amendment) to curb defections. It has clear cut provisions that state that the ‘a defector should be penalised for his action by deferring him from holding any public office as a minister or any other remunerative political post for at least the duration of the remaining term of the existing legislature or until the next fresh elections, whichever is earlier’,” he said.
Alleging that the appointments had led to a constitutional standpoint, Chavan went on to demand that the three ministers should be kept away from office till the court decides the matter. He further sought that the state advocate general be called to the Assembly to discuss his legal opinion in this regard.
Fadnavis, however, turned down these demands. He said that the notices issued (by the HC) at the admission stage of the petition were a normal legal process. The HC will hear the case after a month.
“The HC has imposed no bar on the functioning of the ministers. There is no need to call the advocate general to the Assembly. There are detailed court judgments that the government had referred to before the inductions. We will convince the court that we are legally right,” said Fadnavis.