The Maharashtra state labour welfare board has passed a resolution terminating the services of its commissioner Mohan Dhotre on charges of sexual harassment and financial irregularities.
The resolution was passed more than a year after the chief minister gave his nod to the decision — in January 2012, the labour department had passed an order, which was endorsed by CM Prithviraj Chavan, to remove Dhotre after the sexual harassment charges against him were proved.
The order was challenged in the high court, which granted an interim stay. The commissioner argued in his appeal that the government had no powers to oust him as the board was an autonomous body, and only it can take such a decision.
Consequently, in a meeting held on March 22, 50% of the 26-member board passed the resolution to terminate Dhotre’s services. “Apart from the proven charges of sexual harassment, for which the National Human Rights Commission ordered him to pay Rs1 lakh to the victim, the commissioner has been held guilty of financial irregularities and illegal recruitments,” said Sanjay Shedge, one of the board members.
The board has requested the CM for speedy implementation of its decision. “He [Chavan] has directed the secretary of labour department to execute the order immediately,” Shedge said.
Dhotre, however, claims the meeting in which the resolution was passed was illegal. “Only the chairman of the board — minister of state for labour Rajendra Gavit — has the right to convene a meeting,” he said.
Backing the claim, Gavit said, “I had terminated Dhotre’s service last year, but the order was stayed. I have no intention to support him, but the resolution passed last week has no locus standi as the meeting was illegal.”
The board members, however, insist no rules were broken. “Gavit has not attended the last 10 meetings and did not respond to our mails and letters requesting him to convene the meeting. The chairman is elected by a majority of board members, who can convene the meeting without his knowledge. Does he mean the 10 meetings he did not attend were illegal?” said Ashok Paradkar, another member.