The controversy over the Medical Officer of Health’s (MOH’s) post took a new turn on Tuesday, when corporators of the ruling BJP, using their majority in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), passed a resolution in the General Body meeting to promote Additional Medical Officer of Health, Pavan Salve, to the post. The Bombay High Court had earlier asked the PCMC to maintain status quo in the matter till it took a decision in the case.
On Tuesday, after a heated debate, the civic General Body had passed a resolution to promote Salve to the MoH’s post, with Mayor Nitin Kalje presiding over the meeting. The Opposition, comprising mostly NCP corporators, staged a walk-out to protest against the “trampling of the court order” by the BJP.
The day after the resolution, the BJP denied that it had gone against the court’s order. “We know the matter is sub-judice. The court had asked the PCMC to maintain status quo. We have not replaced the current MoH. The civic General Body has only passed a resolution to promote the incumbent Additional MOH. The resolution will go to the state government for final approval,” said BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar. “Our resolution is recommendatory in nature as the final authority is the state government, not the civic body,” added Kamtekar.
At Tuesday’s meeting, BJP corporator Balasaheb Ohwal had argued that there was a “conspiracy” to deprive Salve of the key post, because he belongs to a particular community. He said though the Law Committee had recommended that Salve be made the new MoH, for six months, the PCMC General Body had taken no decision on the issue. NCP corporator Mangala Kadam, however, said the civic General Body had no right to discuss an issue that was sub-judice. Like Kadam, other corporators including Sachin Chikhale, Sachin Bhosale, Datta Sane, Rahul Kalate, Navnath Jagtap and Raju Misal opposed the discussion on the issue.
The Mayor then sought the opinion of civic legal advisor Satish Pawar, who said the issue was sub-judice and a discussion on it should not be held. Pawar, however, said the civic body could take a decision regarding the proposal for promotion. Shiv Sena corporator Sachin Bhosale, a lawyer, also said if the matter was sub-judice, it should be not discussed in the House.
Just when he was making his point, Mayor Nitin Kalje declared the resolution as passed. NCP leader Kadam pointed out that the High Court had ordered a status quo till July 2, and the resolution “violated the order”.
Kalje said the court had asked the PCMC to maintain status quo about Dr Anil Roy’s promotion to the post of MOH. “We have abided by the court order. But the court has not disallowed us from approving the proposal to promote Pavan Salve,” he said.
Maintaining that the court order was not violated, Kalje said, “The final decision will be that of the municipal commissioner. Our resolution is a recommendation and not a final order”.
The mayor said the debate in the House was over whether the discussion should be allowed. “They all spoke about whether to discuss the issue or not,” he said.
BJP corporator Seema Salve said though there was a court order to maintain status quo, she did not understand why Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar had put the issue on the GB’s agenda. “Is the civic General Body bigger than the court? A court order should not be insulted. The Constitution should be upheld,” she said.
Hardikar said, “The Bombay High Court has asked us to keep the MOH post with Dr Anil Roy. We will abide by the court’s order. The civic General Body order is not binding on us. We will not implement the resolution. The court order will be final.”
Roy, whose promotion to the post in 2015 had ignited the controversy, said, “Since the matter is sub-judice, the discussion on the issue amounts to contempt of court. I will have to check the proceedings of the House as there was a discussion on the issue for one-and-a-half-hours. I will take further action once my lawyers confirm that the House indeed did so.”