Uddhav Thackeray’s nomination to Council: ball is in Governor’s court

Mumbai: With the High Court refusing to interfere, all eyes are now on Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari who will have to take a decision on nominating Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to the Legislative Council. The Bombay High Court on Monday refused interim relief on a BJP worker’s plea opposing the state Cabinet’s recommendation that Thackeray be appointed as governor’s nominee.

Adjourning the petition filed by a BJP worker, the HC said the governor is expected to consider legal validity of the recommendation.

Thackeray, who is not a member of either house of Maharashtra legislature, took oath as chief minister on November 28, 2019.

Under the Constitution, he has to become member of the legislature by May 28, 2020. However, all elections were postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic, so the state cabinet on April 9 recommended that he be nominated to the Council from the governor’s quota.

Under Article 171 of the Constitution,the governor can nominate members having special knowledge or practical experiencein literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.

There are currently two vacancies among members from governor’s quota due to resignations of NCP legislators who joined the BJP before the assembly polls.

The NCP, now part of the ruling coalition, had recommended two names for the vacancies earlier this year, but the governor rejected them saying the term of these two seats will end in Juneand there was no need for immediate appointment.

Constitutional experts cite a 1961 Supreme Court ruling on the appointment of Chandrabhan Gupta asUttar Pradesh chief minister and his nomination to the Legislative Council by the Governor. The SC had upheld his appointment.

The apex court had held that Gupta had taken active part in politics for several years, which amounted to having experience of social service, so he was qualified to be nominated to the legislative council.

Discussing the options before the government, former principal secretary of the legislature Anant Kalsesaid the government should approach theElection Commission of India and seek biennial elections to nine Legislative Council seatsbefore May 27.

Or it can request the Governor to take a decision on the cabinet recommendation of April 9 at the earliest, he said.

The government can also move the high court or the supreme court seeking a direction to the governor, Kalse said.

The courts have ruled in the past that cabinet’s recommendations are binding on the governor, he added.

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