MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: On a day when the Supreme Court of India is to take up two petitions from the Shiv Sena rebels, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed against the rebel leader Eknath Shine and other ministers for ‘omission of duties’.
The PIL was filed by a group of seven citizens of Maharashtra. The petitioners seek “appropriate action” against Shinde and other ministers supporting him for “omission of duties and moral wrongs committed leading to disrespect towards public rights and good governance”.
The PIL also seeks direction from respondents including the Maharashtra government and the parties of the ruling alliance Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) to submit a detailed plan of assurance mentioning the process of governance in absence of several ministers.
The timing of the petition cannot be missed as the Apex Court is to take up petitions from the rebel group that challenges the decision by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal to recognise Ajay Choudhary as leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party (SSLP) in place of Shinde and the disqualification notices served on Shinde and the 15 MLAs.
The PIL at Bombay HC was filed by Utpal Baburao Chandawar, Abhijeet Vilasrao Ghule-Patil, Neelima Sadanand Vartak, Hemant Madhukar Karnik, Manali Mangesh Gupte, Medha Krishna Kulkarni and Madhavi Kulkarni. They claimed to be “non-political persons and followers of constitutional values and expect that all political party leaders must follow Constitutional Morality”.
The petitioners said that “citizen’s public rights are getting ignored due to the current political turmoil taking place in the State of Maharashtra. It is causing public nuisance to the citizens as the Ministers in Maharashtra are neglecting their duties towards the citizens who have elected them.”
They also said stated, “instead of working for the community, these Respondents are aiming at securing personal gains by instigating internal disorder within the governance of the state”.
The PIL said that “at present the people of Maharashtra are feeling neglected, voiceless, who are many times meek viewers of the political drama”. It also stated that “this is also because they cannot do anything to change the situation of what happens between two elections”.
Citing reports of the rebel MLAs travelling by chartered planes and staying in luxurious 5-Star hotels with Rs 3,000 crores being spent on rebel MLAs, the PIL also wishes to know “how the elected representatives of the people are spending such huge amounts”. It also wishes to know “whether they (rebels) are using money from public funds to travel in chartered planes and to reside in lavish 5-star hotels”.
The petitioners seek direction from Shinde, who is on “official leave” with other ministers, to return to the state and resume their duties. They said that “the elected members are representative of State Government who are duty-bound and under Constitutional oath to work for people and hence their willful absence from the State is a conduct interferes with the rights of the public and affects the entire community”.
The petitioners alleged that “by not abiding to the oath, the absconding Ministers from the State of Maharashtra are actually committing breach of Article 164 (3) and III Schedule of Constitution of India”.