Published On : Sat, Oct 22nd, 2016

Cong moves HC against Devendra Fadnavis govt over Advocate General’s vacant post!


Mumbai/Nagpur: Ever since Maharashtra’s Advocate General Shreehari Aney resigned from his post in March, no permanent appointment has been done yet. This prompted rival Congress to pull up the Devendra Fadnavis government against whom one of its legislator even moved the court.

Congress Legislator Sanjay Dutt has submitted a writ petition to the Bombay High Court, in which he has sought the cancellation of the appointment of the Rohit Deo who has been handling the charge. Dutt has also challenged the constitutional validity of the Fadnavis government in the absence of Advocate General (AG). In his petition Dutt has also sought direction from the Court declaring that the post of ‘Acting Advocate General’ as unconstitutional.

The petition is expected to be heard in mid-November when the Court opens after Diwali vacation.

“As long as the Advocate General’s post is lying vacant, the Government cannot be said to have been properly formed. The government cannot operate without appointing an Advocate-General as mandated by the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution,” says Dutt’s petition seeking immediate hearing of the matter which is of “national importance”.

Challenging the appointment of Acting AG, the petition says, “Any other lawyer appointed under Article 162 of the Constitution, and designed in any manner as the Government deems fit, is not authorised to perform any constitutional and statutory functions of the AG.”

Stating that the constitution has no provision for the post of Acting Advocate General, Dutt has sought the Court’s direction to the Fadnavis government to withdraw the charge given to the “Acting Advocate General” till the pendency of this case.

Petition points out that acting AG Deo is also working as a full time Associate Advocate General and as the Additional Solicitor General at Nagpur. In addition to these two full time, serious and heavy responsibilities, the State Government has given him an appointment of “Acting Advocate General’ for more than 7 months.

“It is humanly impossible to discharge effectively the responsibilities and duties of these three posts simultaneously by one individual, keeping in view the volume of work occupant of each of these posts is expected to discharge, that too by constantly travelling between Bombay and Nagpur,” reads the petition.

“How come Maharashtra which contributes 25% of industrial output, 23% of the GDP and has given the nation great scholars like Dr. B.R Ambedkar, sports and film icons, cannot find and appoint an AG?” asks Petition.

“I was forced to approach Court after the failure of the Government in making a regular appointment of an Advocate General, in spite of the fact that I have on two occasions raised the same issue in the Legislative Council. An incorrect answer was by the government to justify the post of acting AG. The CM in the Upper House had cited the precedence of 24 times when acting AG was appointed. What he didn’t tell that all these were during British period.”

To back his case, Dutt has also highlighted the crucial duties, status and powers of the AG. “The AG being a constitutional post is at par with that of the Chief Minister. He is the trustee of the general public. The AG is the only non-elected individual who is entitled to address the Houses of Legislature.”

Dutt had earlier approached the Supreme Court last month raising the same issue. However, the Apex Court has asked him to seek recourse in the High Court first.

While his move is being dubbed as a political one, Dutt justifies, “The present Petition has been filed for the simple reason that one of the most important constitutional offices of the state government is lying vacant despite requests in the Legislature. I was left with no other option but to approach the Court.”

Dutt also clarifies that he was not casting any aspersions on the abilities and character of the incumbent who is in charge of the post of the Advocate-General of the state of Maharashtra. Therefore, he has not been made as a party to the case.