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Ministers should find time to perform duties: Bombay High Court

Ministers should find time to perform duties: Bombay High Court
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The Bombay High Court has taken a serious view of the stand taken by a Maharashtra minister that he will not be available until January 2016 to hear an appeal filed by a cooperative society.

The Bombay High Court has taken a serious view of the stand taken by a Maharashtra minister that he will not be available until January 2016 to hear an appeal filed by a cooperative society.


The appeal -- which had been filed before the appellate authority (Minister) -- had challenged the supersession of the society's managing committee and appointment of administrative officer in its place to manage the affairs.

"We do not countenance such state of affairs. Even if appellate authority is a Minister of State in the government of Maharashtra, does not mean that urgent matters are kept on hold for his or her non-availability," said justices SC Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawala in their order.

"If quasi-judicial powers are vested in the ministers to decide matters which are as serious as appeals, then, they have to find time to perform such duties," the judges said.

"In the facts peculiar to this case and looking to the urgency, we direct that the application for stay filed by the petitioners shall be taken up by Secretary in the Department of Cooperation and Textiles who shall, after hearing both sides, pass a reasoned order thereon as expeditiously as possible on or before October 30," the court ordered.

The court, while disposing of the petition, asked the society to appear before the secretary concerned on October 23 (today) and ruled that all contentions of both sides are kept open.

The bench noted, "We are not concerned with how officers exercising powers under different statutes proceeded to sanction and implement the slum rehabilitation scheme on a plot of land. But we are concerned here with the cooperative housing society."

The SRA officers have powers to initiate proceedings under sections 78 and 78A of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act. Accordingly, an order dated September 9, 2015, was passed superseding the managing committee and appointing an administrator to manage the affairs of the society.

Against this order, the petitioners approached the appellate authority by filing an appeal, which is pending.

Since the petitioners were served with a communication that the administrator was to take charge of the affairs of the petitioner-society from October 5, the aggrieved society approached the appellate authority (the Minister of State for cooperation) with an application for interim stay.

As the Minister informed that he would not be available till January 2016 to hear the appeal, the society moved the high court, which has now ordered the Secretary of Cooperation to hear the matter and decide it.
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