Governor’s constitutional duty to decide on MLCs, says HC

Court reserves order on plea on delay in appointments

The Bombay High Court on Monday said the Governor has a constitutional duty to either accept or reject the proposal sent by the Chief Minister nominating members to the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC), and reserved its order in the matter.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Nashik resident Ratan Luth over the delay by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in deciding on the 12 names recommended for MLC posts by the Maharashtra government. Vinayak Mete, an MLC, had filed an intervention in the PIL.

“Where do you get that provision under the Indian Constitution where it says the Governor may not act; what is your interpretation of the Indian Constitution? Does the Governor have a duty? Whether mandatory or discretionary, it would be a duty. Has it been performed?” the Bench asked Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the Union government.

The court added, “If a proposal has been forwarded by the Chief Minister with the aid and advice of the State Council of Ministers for nomination of persons to MLC posts, then was it not the duty of the Governor to take a decision?”

The Bench pointed out that the proposal has been pending with the Governor since November last year. “The Governor may or may not accept it, but does the Governor not have a duty to speak or act? Is there any time provision in the Constitution that says that the Governor may not act at all?” the court asked.

“Once a proposal is sent, then it is the duty of the Governor to accept it or send it back. Can the Governor keep the seats [of MLCs] vacant?” the court said.

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