Administrative decisions of the state government cannot come to a standstill because of election code of conduct, the Bombay High Court on Monday said.
The remark was made by a division bench of Justices NH Patil and Mridula Bhatkar while hearing a petition filed by Farooq Motorwala, convict in the 1993 serial train blasts case, challenging refusal of the Minister of State for Home and Prisons to pass an order in his parole extension plea on the ground of code of conduct.
“Motorwala, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, was released on parole in February this year. On March 6, he applied for extension of parole. However, when no order was passed till March 18, Motorwala made enquiry with the concerned ministry and was informed that no orders on parole applications or on extension applications would be passed until the Lok Sabha elections as the Code of Conduct is in progress,” Motorwala’s advocate NN Gavankar said.
Irked with this response of the state government, Justice Patil said, “Code of Conduct does not mean that the government will not take any administrative decisions. Normal and routine functions of the government cannot come to a standstill and be suspended. Has the Election Commission passed any rule that parole or extension applications cannot be decided during code of conduct?” The court further observed that the rights of prisoners cannot be affected. “Does this mean that the government will not arrest anyone during code of conduct,” the court remarked.
The bench directed assistant public prosecutor KV Saste to take instructions and posted the petition for hearing on Tuesday.