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Maharashtra: SC restrains govt from taking steps on 12 vacant MLC posts till Oct 14

THE SUPREME Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government not to take any step in connection to the vacant posts of 12 members of the Legislative Council to be nominated by the Governor, till October 14 — the next day of hearing.

The order comes days after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, on September 5, approved Eknath Shinde government’s recommendation to withdraw the 12 names suggested by the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi in 2020 to be nominated as MLCs.

Article 171 (5) of the Constitution provides that members to be nominated to the Legislative Council by the Governor shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.

Justice K M Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy had passed an order in a special leave petition (SLP) filed by Nashik-based Ratan Soli Luth, challenging the August 13, 2021, order of the Bombay High Court.

The HC had said that it is “desirable” that Koshyari decides on the recommendations of the state Cabinet on nominating 12 MLCs at the earliest since over eight months had already passed. It had added that it was the Governor’s obligation to accept or return the recommendations made by the Cabinet within a reasonable time and that seats in the Legislative Council “cannot be kept vacant indefinitely”.

Thereafter, Luth filed the SLP in SC in October, 2021, which came up for the hearing before the apex court for the first time on Monday. The SC was told by senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for Luth, that it was binding on the Governor to decide and give reasons on the named recommended by the Cabinet. Singh added that on September 5, the Governor, without taking any reasonable decision on the nominations, deemed it appropriate to return the same to the government. Luth submitted that following this, fresh nominations may be made to fill up the 12 vacancies.

Maintaining that the “matter needs consideration”, the SC issued notice to the Union and the state governments, seeking their responses.

Posting the matter to October 14, it said, “No steps shall be taken in respect of vacancies, which were sought to be filled up on the basis of the nomination dated November 7, 2020 and which is the subject matter of the litigation till the next date of hearing.”

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