The Bombay High Court has expressed distress that the two apex Constitutional functionaries in Maharashtra - the Governor and Chief Minister - do not "trust" each other, and urged them to "sit together" and "erase" all their differences.
The observations came when a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M.S. Karnik dismissed two Public Interest Litigations, one filed by a Bharatiya Janata Party leader Girish Mahajan and other by activist Janak Vyas.
Referring to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's inaction on the nomination of 12 MLCs, pending since November 6, 2020, the bench pointed out that there was no movement even after the court's verdict in Aug. 2021.
At that time, the court had observed that it was the Governor's duty to decide on the recommendations of the Council of Ministers for the 12 MLCs' nomination "within a reasonable time".
Expressing anguish over how the court was "treated" after it passed the order, Chief Justice Datta said that now it is March 2022, and nothing has happened even after eight months.
The bench elaborated that the unfortunate part in the state was the two highest Constitutional functionaries "do not trust each other", with both the Governor and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray "not on the same page".
"You both please sit together and sort this out between yourselves... Who is suffering in all of this?... Erase all these differencesa Your ramblings do not take the state forward," it observed.
Dismissing the PILs by Mahajan and Vyas, the court admonished them and ordered forfeiture of their Rs 10 lakh and Rs 2 lakh deposits which they were ordered to pay up in an earlier hearing.
The petitioners had challenged the Maha Vikas Aghadi government's amendments to the procedures for the election of Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly, which has been pending for nearly a year now, and were proposed to be held on Wednesday (March 9), but the Governor's nod is awaited.
They contended that the amendments were "undemocratic", "arbitrary", "illegal", and "unconstitutional", but Chief Justice Datta objected to the lack of pleadings in the PIL to demonstrate their locus or how the election of Speaker was a matter of public interest.
State Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had strongly opposed the PILs on the grounds of maintainability and said they were a waste of the court's precious time.
Reacting to the developments, state Congress President Nana F. Patole said that the high court's observations were "a slap on the face" of those who are creating hurdles in the election of the Speaker.
In a strong statement, he said the Governor must respect the court's verdict and take immediate action on the Speaker election and the nomination of 12 MLCs.
"The BJP must understand the democratic process and stop rushing to the court all the time to prevent the good work of the MVA government. We want to conduct the Speaker's election before the state Budget on March 11. We hope the Governor will take a decision on priority in this regard," Patole urged.