Legal experts consulted before cabinet expansion: Fadnavis

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said consultations with legal experts have been held before cabinet expansion, on the inclusion of some ministers in the cabinet.

Fadnavis was speaking in the Legislative Assembly, after the Bombay High Court on Monday sought response of former leader of opposition in the state assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and two other ministers in the state government on a plea challenging their appointment.

Fadnavis said notice before admission is a regular process of the judiciary and had the Court found any urgency in the petition, the state government would not have been given a month’s time to respond.

“Therefore, there is no bar on the ministers in performing their duties. Secondly, there was no need to take the opinion of the Attorney General (AG). However I have spoken to legal experts. If needed I am ready to provide previous judgements of the Supreme Court,” Fadnavis said.

The chief minister said once the state recieves the notice, an appropriate reply will be filed stating that our stand is proper considering the previous decisions taken by the Apex court over petitions filed before it.

Fadnavis said the Court has not barred the ministers from performing their duties and therefore they will continue to work.

A division bench of justices S C Dharmadhikari and G S Patel was hearing a petition challenging the appointment of Vikhe Patil, NCP-turned Shiv Sena leader Jaydutt Kshirsagar, and RPI(A) leader Avinash Mahatekar as ministers.

Petitioners Surinder Arora, Sanjay Kale and Sandeep Kulkarni, in their plea, said the ministers stand disqualified on the ground of defection, according to the Constitution.

Moreover, they have no intention of being elected within the next six months, as per the Representation of the People Act, the petitioners claimed.

The petition urged the court to quash the appointment of all the three, grant an interim injunction restraining them from acting as ministers, and direct the Assembly speaker to decide on the matter within two weeks.

Kshirsagar was allotted the employment guarantee and the Horticulture Department while Mahatekar was appointed as a junior minister during the recent state cabinet expansion.

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