The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Maharashtra Bhushan to be awarded to writer Babasaheb Purandare. The judges also imposed costs of Rs 10,000 on the petitioners.
A division bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice SB Shukre was hearing the PIL filed by Padmakar Kamble and Rahul Okade questioning the policy decision in granting the award to Purandare. The PIL states that the award is being out of turn, does not meet the criteria and does not deserve it.
The PIL also alleges that the committee responsible for deciding the name for the award was not chaired by the chief minister.
The HC judgement comes as a huge relief to the state government as the function to confer the award to Purandare is slated to be held on Wednesday at 5.30 pm at the Raj Bhavan. With this, the government can go ahead with the scheduled function.
Calling it a "publicity stunt," acting advocate general Anil Singh said the petition should be dismissed as it was not maintainable. Singh said that the meeting to decide on the name of the awardee was held in April and the announcement of the name was widely publicised. Why the petitioners had filed the plea so late? he asked.
Singh also submitted that the state-appointed committee had done its job properly in selecting the award winner.
He also added that there were nine members in the committee who suggested nine names and Purandare's was the final name. The committee argued that several eminent personalities such as social worker Prakash Amte, film stars Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and singer Asha Bhosle were short-listed for the award.
However, the petitioner alleged that Purandare's name was included at the last minute and hence the procedure was not followed in letter and spirit.
Maharashtra Bhushan is the highest and prestigious award presented annually by the state government since 1996 for significant contribution in various fields. It was initially conferred in the fields of literature, science, arts and sports.
Later, other fields such as social work, health services, journalism and public administration were included. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, a memento and citation. The winners are selected by a committee appointed by the state government.
(With PTI inputs)