In a major embarrassment for the state government, the Bombay high court on Monday set aside chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s decision to scrap the process to select an administrative member on Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) mid-way.
The division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice Nishita Mhatre also quashed the decision of a selection committee, headed by the chief justice of the high court, to recall its own decision to recommend the name of a retired IAS Officer, M Ramesh Kumar, following Chavan’s decision.
"We will fail in our duty to protect the integrity and independence of the judiciary, if we do not quash the decision," the bench noted.
Acting on a petition filed by Kumar through advocate Ravi Shetty, the court has now directed the state government to process the recommendation of the selection committee – forward it to the Centre along with its own comments. The court has, however, stayed the directive for four weeks on the request of additional government pleader JS Saluja.
After completing all formalities, on January 31, the selection committee had unanimously recommended Kumar, an IAS officer of 1975 batch who retired as additional chief secretary in September 2010.
But, four months later – on May 9 – Chavan decided to scrap the selection process and ordered MAT to carry out a fresh exercise after it was found that the MAT had not forwarded the application of Bhupati Prasad Pandey, another retired IAS Officer, for consideration of the selection committee.