New Delhi: The Supreme Court has extended the stay of the Bombay High Court judgment, which set aside the Maharashtra government's selection for the state consumer commission and district consumer forum.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that it appears from the High Court’s judgment that it 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 case studies would have to be answered in Marathi.
The bench observed that the case of the petitioners is that the state government legitimately did this 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 the apex court under Article 142 of the Constitution.
The bench said the state government made appointments on October 5, 2023, after the HC reserved the judgment 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," said the bench, in an order passed on November 10.
The apex court emphasized that the issues which have been raised by the petitioner would require further deliberation and issued notice to Mahendra Bhaskar Limaye and others, who filed the plea in the High Court, after hearing both sides. Petitioners Ganeshkumar Rajeshwarrao Selukar and others, represented by advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, challenged the validity of the High Court's judgment of October 20, 2023, before the apex court.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar submitted before the bench that the Maharashtra government also filed a petition against the HC's judgment. The HC 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 dated 3 March 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 rules were framed by the central government on 21 September 2023.
The counsel appearing on behalf of the original petitioner before the High Court on caveat (the first respondent) submitted that the state government erroneously reduced the total number of marks from 100 marks for Paper-I as 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.
The submission of the first respondent was 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 apex court observed that the High Court had also found fault with the composition of the selection committee, the judgments of the previous Supreme Court were not complied with as the panel consisted of only one nominee of the Chief Justice and two representatives of the state government. The apex court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on November 24.