Matang leader moves HC, seeks regulation of nomination to legislative council

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Mumbai: Matang community leader Diliprao Agale has approached Bombay high court to regulate the governor’s power to nominate members to the legislative council.

The Matang community is considered one of the most suppressed and neglected castes in Maharashtra.

In his petition, filed through advocate SB Talekar, the 58-year-old social worker sought a declaration that clauses 3(e) and 5 of Article 171 of the Constitution violate Article 14 and the rule of law, which is a basic feature of the statute.

Article 171(3)(e) empowers the governor to nominate members to the legislative council, and Article 171(5) requires that the persons to be appointed should have special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, arts, cooperative movement and social service.

“No doubt enough guidance is provided as to the qualification or eligibility criteria of the nominated members,” the petition said. “However, there is nothing prescribing the mode and manner to nominate members on the State Legislative Council.”

The petition will come up for hearing on June 16 before a division bench of justices SJ Kathawalla and Surendra Tavade.

Agale complained that there is nothing in the scheme of these appointments regarding the parameters and tests to select candidates.

The Maharashtra legislative council has a total of 78 members, of whom 66 are elected and the remainder are nominated by the governor.

Agale’s petition further said all proposals for nominating members to the legislative council, under the Maharashtra Government Rules of Business, are required to be submitted to the chief minister, while the governor nominates members on the basis of recommendations from the chief minister.

He complained that no scrutiny is done to ascertain where the candidates fulfil essential requirements and if they have incurred disqualification, as contemplated by Article 191.

Besides, the candidates nominated by the governor are not required to disclose their wealth and criminal past, if any, as is required in elections to the state and Central legislature.

Therefore, according to Agale, the power to nominate becomes unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory, as it is open to the chief minister to choose people to be nominated according to whims and fancies.

The power conferred on the governor is not only arbitrary but has no place in a polity governed by the rule of law. It also violates the mandate of equality enshrined in Article 14, the petition said.

The actions of the chief minister, council of ministers or the governor have to be fair, impartial and based on a realistic assessment on whether the candidates have the required special knowledge or practical experience.

Agale also complained that there are thousands who meet the requirements for such nomination, “but only those who are close to the centre of power or those who enjoy the confidence of those in power are considered for nomination”.

He added, “The selection is done either on party lines or depending upon who is close to or in good books of the chief minister or the high command of the party in power…Barring a few exceptions, most of those nominated were either active politicians or person affiliated or associated with the party in power or individuals enjoying political patronage.”

Besides, he also complained about the disparity within scheduled castes in Maharashtra in connection with their political representation, contending that the major benefit of reservation is taken by the predominant Magar community.

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