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Court has said issues which have been raised by the petitioner would require further deliberation as appointments were made by the state government on October 5, 2023 after the judgment was reserved by the High Court on September 01, 2023 but before it was pronounced on October 20, 2023 and the persons who are working at present would stand to be removed as a consequence of the judgment of the High Court
The Supreme Court recently extended the stay on the Bombay High Court's judgement which set aside the selection process conducted by the Maharashtra government to the state and district consumer fora.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra on November 10 directed the interim stay granted by the High Court to continue in operation till November 24.
Court has also issued notice on a plea filed by Ganeshkumar Rajeshwarrao Selukar and others against the High Court's judgement of October 20, 2023 and fixed the matter for hearing on November 24.
"Appointments were made by the state government on October 5, 2023 after the judgment was reserved by the High Court on September 01, 2023 but before it was pronounced on October 20, 2023. Since the persons who are working at present would stand to be removed as a consequence of the judgment of the High Court, we direct that the interim stay which was granted by the High Court shall continue to remain in operation till November 24, 2023," the bench said.
Advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar for the petitioner and Uday Warunjikar, on behalf of the intervenor state submitted that the State of Maharashtra had also filed a Special Leave Petition against the High Court's judgment which is likely to be listed after the Diwali recess of the court.
The High Court had set aside the selection process which was conducted by the state government primarily on the ground that while issuing directions under Article 142 of the Constitution, this court, by its judgment of March 3, 2023, had issued directions in regard to the manner in which the examination for selecting members of the State Commission and District Fora would be conducted pending the finalisation of the Rules, the bench noted.
The Rules have been framed by the central government on September 21, 2023.
"It appears from the judgment of the High Court that the High Court was of the view that it was not open to the state government to enhance the number of questions in Paper-II from one essay to two essays and one case study to two case studies. The state government directed that one of the essays and one of the case studies would have to be answered in Marathi. While the case of the petitioners is that this was legitimately done by the state government to ensure proficiency in the language of the State, the submission which has found favour with the High Court is that this was contrary to the directions of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution," the bench said.
A counsel on behalf of the original petitioner before the High Court on caveat submitted that the state government erroneously reduced the total number of marks from 100 marks for Paper-I prescribed by the directions of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution to 90 marks on the ground that certain questions were erroneously framed.
He submitted that even if that be so, the appropriate course of action would have been to allocate the marks pro rata to the remaining questions.
The High Court also held on the composition of the Selection Committee, the judgments of this Court not complied with inasmuch as the selection committee consisted of only one nominee of the Chief Justice and two representatives of the state government.
The court also noted the submission that for the selection to the consumer fora, there would be two distinguishing features from the judgments in 'Rojer Mathew Vs South Indian Bank Limited & Ors' (2020); 'Madras Bar Association (MBA III) Versus Union of India & Anr' (2021); and 'Madras Bar Association (MBA IV) Versus Union of India & Anr' (2021) namely: (i) the holding of the interviews is proceeded by a written examination which has to be cleared by all candidates; and (ii) before other Tribunals, the State is interested in the outcome of the litigation being a contesting party, whereas before the consumer fora, the State has no interest in the litigation which ordinarily concerns private litigating parties.
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