Ministers in charge of Appellate bodies must remove their Political hats in Mumbai

Dec27,2021 #Bombay High Court #Mumbai
Bombay High Court law insider
Bombay High Court law insider

Ambika Bhardwaj

Published On: December 27, 2021 at 19:25 IST

When a minister holds power as an appellate authority under the law to determine even matters of defection, the Bombay High Court has held that she or he has a “higher and more solemn role” when the case involves rival political interests. The minister, who wears two hats, must remove the political hat when trying to decide appeals and act completely neutrally, as required by law.”

“Such a role would require a high degree of awareness of the responsibility connected to the office, impartiality and objectivity, coupled with keeping high values of rectitude, to be adhered to in releasing the adjudicatory functions,” said the High Court on December 9, when dismissing petitions seeking disqualification of four Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation corporators for disobeying the whip approved by BJP group leader Hasmukh Ghelot during the mayor’s election.

Ghelot appealed the October 29 Order of the Konkan Division’s divisional commissioner rejecting his application for Rai’s disqualification. His application was submitted under the provisions of the Maharashtra Local Authorities Members’ Disqualification Act, which is decided first by the divisional commissioner.

The commissioner’s order can be appealed within 30 days to the state government and is listened by a minister who has a “bias” because he is a Shiv Sena member.

“It should not be forgotten that when the minister holds power as an Appellate authority, he is wearing two hats.” The first hat is the adjudicatory hat, which confers power, authority, and jurisdiction to carry out activities as an appellate authority.

“The second hat, to be kept dormant, would be as a member of a specific political affiliation,” Justice Kulkarni explained. He went on to say that the minister “would be made to remove the second hat when he wears the hat of an Appellate authority.”

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