The Bombay High Court today pulled up the Maharashtra government over the delay in appointment of a new Advocate General and sought an explanation, observing many constitutional and statutory functions of the state were suffering for the past eight months.
A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Anuja Prabhudesai said the inaction by government to appoint an Advocate General affects the cause of justice as well as members of public.
"It was high time that the government appointed a new Advocate General to represent the state," said the bench while hearing a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt.
"Many constitutional and statutory functions (of the government) are suffering due to the non-appointment of the Advocate General and it affects the cause of justice as well as the public," the bench remarked.
The judges while noting that there was a delay in filling up the post of Advocate General called upon the state to explain the same in an affidavit within two weeks.
The court granted two weeks time, instead of a month, as prayed by the state, and directed the government to file an affidavit by December 13, by which time the new AG should be appointed.
The matter has been listed 'high on board' on December 14.
Nagendra Rai, senior advocate of Supreme Court and former Acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court, appeared for the petitioner along with advocate Ashish Mehta.
Dutt sought a direction to the Maharashtra government to appoint a regular Advocate General in place of the current acting Advocate General.
Dutt's petition said the court should declare that the post of 'acting Advocate General' was unconstitutional, and that the appointment of Advocate General should be made only as per the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution.
Dutt clarified that he was not questioning the integrity and professional capability of the acting Advocate General Rohit Deo, but said he wanted a direction to the government to follow the Constitutional provisions.
Deo was functioning as an acting AG for the last seven months, while under the Constitution no post of 'acting AG' exists, he said.
Dutt had also raised the issue in the state Legislature earlier, the petition said.
"Pending final disposal of the petition, the court may
pass an interim order directing the government to withdraw the charge given to acting Advocate General," the petition prayed.
Deo was appointed as an acting AG after the previous Advocate General Srihari Aney was forced to resign.
Aney's open support for separate Vidarbha had incurred him the wrath of political parties, including the ruling ally Shiv Sena, which are opposed to the idea of statehood for the region.