Bombay HC rejected a petition challenging the allotment of ministerial posts to political turncoats Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Jaydutt Kshirsagar.
The Bombay high court on Friday rejected a petition challenging the allotment of ministerial posts to political turncoats Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Jaydutt Kshirsagar, and RPI leader Avinash Mahatekar, who are not members of the state legislature. The court, however, noted that such appointments are not “morally correct”.
A division bench of Justices S.C. Dharmadhikari and G.S. Patel was hearing a petition filed by Surinder Arora, Sanjay Kale and Sandeep Kulkarni, who stated that all three leaders should be disqualified as they did not intend to get elected to either House of the state legislature. According to the Constitution, a member of the council of ministers must become member of legislature within six months of his assignment, if he or she is already not a member.
Mr Vikhe-Patil had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after quitting Congress and resigning as an MLA while Mr Kshirsagar — formerly with the NCP — had resigned from the Assembly last month. With less than three months left for the Assembly poll, the two did not need contest any election till then. Similarly, Mr Mahatekar was made a minister last month even though he is not an MLA and there is no likelihood that he will become member of the state legislature during the current government’s term.
On Friday, the court refused to quash their appointment as ministers, but noted in its judgment that these leaders might have decided to join the party after looking at the vote percentage of BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The ministers have been inducted in the state Assembly merely for political gains and convenience. We do not endorse this. What has been done may strictly not be morally correct and may have been a political plot, but we cannot hold that the ministers defected and disqualified,” the court said.
Mr Vikhe-Patil, who was the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly till he joined the BJP, was inducted into the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet as the housing minister in June 2019. Mr Kshirsagar was allotted the employment guarantee and horticulture department while Mr Mahatekar was appointed as a junior minister during the recent state Cabinet expansion.
In the last hearing of the matter, government counsel V.A. Thorat had opposed the plea and argued that the three could hold ministerial charge for six months and would have to get elected to the state legislature within this period.