MUMBAI: The BJP-led Maharashtra Government today opposed a petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the joining of government by erstwhile opposition party Shiv Sena, saying the PIL was not in keeping with the provisions of Constitution.
State Advocate General Sunil Manohar argued that there was no rule which prevented the opposition party from joining the ruling benches.
The petition, filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar, said the Sena's move to join the Devendra Fadnavis government was against the rules of the Assembly as members of the opposition party cannot switch over to the treasury benches at least for six months after a trust vote is won.
After the petitioner sought time to show Maharashtra Assembly rules and Anti-Defection Law to the court, the bench headed by Chief Justice deferred the hearing to December 17.
The petition said that Sena had been in opposition until now but has joined the government recently with ten of its legislators already becoming ministers.
The PIL prayed to the HC to direct the Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde and chief minister Fadnavis to frame rules to prevent Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, the Leader of Opposition till recently, from taking up any ministerial post for a period of six months.
In recent expansion of Cabinet, Shinde was made the Minister of Public Works (public undertakings) by the chief minister.
The Fadnavis government won a trust vote in a voice vote in the Assembly last month. At that time, Shinde was the Leader of Opposition. This step of Sena joining the government is "not legal", the petitioner contended.
"Once a trust motion was passed in the Assembly, the government was not required to prove its majority again for a period of six months, according to rules. Hence, a no-trust motion (if any) cannot be brought within six months from the date of earlier motion (i.e trust vote held on November 12)," said the petition.
The PIL said as the ruling party cannot be unseated within the next six months, an opposition party too cannot change its status within the same period and switch over to the treasury benches, "and that too for the sake of Cabinet berths."
Meanwhile, the same bench of the HC today adjourned till December 23 the hearing on a petition, also filed by Tirodkar, challenging the Speaker's decision to order voice vote instead of the division of votes (head count) during the trust motion last month.