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Patna HC bars Manjhi govt from taking financial decisions

india Updated: Feb 16, 2015 20:43 IST
Jitan Ram Manjhi


The Patna high court on Monday directed the Jitan Ram Manjhi government not to take any decision which has financial implications and carry out only routine work.

The court instruction comes ahead of Manjhi's trust vote on February 20 amid a political crisis in Bihar.

The direction was given by a division bench comprising justices Iqbal Ahmad Ansari and Samrendra Pratap Singh.

"Respondents should not take any decision having financial implications except for routine matter," the bench ordered on a PIL filed by JD(U) legislator Niraj Kumar.

The court fixed February 19 as the next date of hearing.

Besides Manjhi, there were three other respondents including the chief secretary, the principal secretary to the governor and the principal secretary to the chief minister.

Kumar's counsel P K Shahi, an ex-advocate general of the state, drew the court's attention to policy decisions taken by Manjhi, which, he said, does not have required strength to run the government.

He highlighted decisions like reserving work for SC/ST contracts up to Rs 70 lakh, lowering attendance for school students from 75% to 60% for general category and 55% for SC/ST for availing benefit schemes like free cycle and uniform, besides free electricity to farmers having up to five acres.

Shahi also referred to a similar decision by the Supreme Court in the case of government of Jagdambika Pal in Uttar Pradesh.

SBK Mangalam, who represented Manjhi, told the court that he would seek brief from his client.

JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI and one Independent supporting Nitish Kumar have already submitted a memorandum to Governor
Keshari Nath Tripathi to stop Manjhi government from taking big decisions which they said would cost the state exchequer an additional Rs 50,000 crore.

'Nitish responsible for Bihar crisis'

The BJP, meanwhile, accused JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar of being solely responsible for throwing Bihar into a "constitutional crisis" and political instability due to his "craving for power" and charged him with "misusing" the Speaker's post for his politics.

The BJP said it is keeping a close watch on the developments in the state and will decide its strategy on the floor of the assembly when it meets on February 20 for the trial of strength of chief minister Manjhi.

"We have been seeing the political drama in Bihar for the last 20 months. Bihar has been thrown into a constitutional crisis and political instabilty for which Nitish Kumar is solely responsible.

"We are keeping a close watch on Bihar developments. A meeting of the state BJP Legislature Party has been convened on February 18 to discuss the strategy ahead," Bihar's former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.

Asked whether BJP will support Manjhi in the trust vote or not, he said, "BJP will take its decision on the floor of the assembly when the trust vote comes up. We have all our options open."

He claimed Kumar has lost the mandate to rule Bihar ever since he broke the alliance with BJP as the mandate was not to form a government with Lalu Prasad or Congress but against them.

"Niish Kumar has committed three big mistakes - of betraying the mandate of people of Bihar from whom he should seek an apology, for joining hands eith Lalu and Congress and for removing a mahadalit Manjhi as chief minister. The people of Bihar will give a reply to Kumar in the polls," he said.

The BJP's salvo came on a day Nitish Kumar accused the saffron party of "clandestinely" helping Manjhi to trigger chaos in Bihar.

"Instead of clandestinely helping Manjhi, BJP should announce open support to him," Kumar said.