The order came in four separate petitions filed by Hingoli MLA Chandrakant Navghare and three others who said that chief minister Eknath Shinde government was in the process of cancelling work or tenders or projects already approved or shifting them.
These petitions are from three talukas of Jalna district and the Vasmat taluka of Hingoli district.
Citing an example work being shifted from Hingoli to Kalamnuri on a letter from the Kalamnuri MLA, the petitioner Navghare, 40, said the apprehension was that state is likely to cancel approved projects and shift work only to constituency of MLAs of the ruling coalition.
Advocate S S Tope for Navghar at a hearing on November 9 before a bench of Justices R V Ghuge and S A Deshmukh pointed to Article 204 of the Constitution of India and an Supreme Court ruling to argue that decision by a government cannot be easily nullified by the change of government and that the execution of the decisions taken by the previous government are to be respected and the succeeding government is duty bound to continue and carry on the unfinished work.
The HC was shown a communique of September 26 by chief engineer of Construction Management Division, Tribal Development Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai, addressed to the superintending engineer, Nagpur, which referred to a communication by a Sitting MLA from the Kalamnuri Constituency, requesting the Government to cancel the project approved under the scheme dated 01/04/2021 at Shirad Shahapur in district Hingoli and shift work to his Constituency.
Chief Government Pleader DR Kale sought time to file state’s reply and said that, “apprehension voiced by the petitioners is baseless and misconceived.” Kale said “Merely because an MLA submits that a project be cancelled and be shifted to his Constituency, does not mean that the Government would take a decision without application of mind.”
The State would not be cancelling projects where tender process is complete, lowest bidder identified and work orders, issued, the GP said.
The HC recording his submissions passed the status-quo order.
“In projects, where the tender process is yet not completed, though the tenders have been floated and bids have been received from the bidders, there would not be cancellation of such tenders, without the leave of the Court,” said the HC calling for affidavits in reply by November 18 and posted the matters to November 23 for further hearing.
The HC was informed that the works were sanctioned under the Soil and Water Conservation Department, Urban Development Department, Tribal Development Department and Public Works Department in the state legislative budget session- 2021-2022 and 2022-23 under article 202(1) of the Constitution of India which stipulates presentation of Anila financial statement of estimated project costs before the House in each state.
Petitions assailed a GR of July 2022 by Urban Development Department, staying development works as “illegal, arbitrary” and said “issued mala-fide by the State Government by colorable exercise of powers.”