The Bombay High Court transferred to its Aurangabad bench a PIL challenging the recent appointment of a new managing committee by Maharashtra government to run the Shirdi Sai Baba Trust.
A bench headed by Justice V M Kanade was of the view that the High Court bench at Aurangabad bench has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Moreover, a similar matter is pending before the Aurangabad bench and hence the PIL was transferred from Mumbai bench to Aurangabad bench to club the two petitions together.
The PIL, filed by Mumbai resident Surender Arora, alleged that persons with political affiliations and criminal antecedents were being appointed by the state government to run the trust, reflecting nepotism and favour to a certain section of people.
It said that the government should appoint managing committee members independent of their political affiliations.
The PIL said that the government had framed rules for constituting the management committee of the Shirdi Trust on January 24, 2013. However, these rules were conveniently kept vague by the government as they neither state the precise procedure of selection nor prescribe the selection criteria.
The rules also do not contain any transparency provisions and checks on the unbridled exercise of power in making appointments. Thus, the rules are ultra-vires the Constitution in not limiting the arbitrary exercise of power by the government, the PIL contended.
Moreover, before the rules came into force they were never placed before both Houses of the state legislature which is a mandatory procedure, the petition said.
After the management committee was constituted on July 28, 2016, few members visited the temple and started giving directions to the employees on the strength of the impugned notification of their appointment.
There was no formal taking of charge and also no statement was made before the Bombay High Court, which had constituted an ad-hoc body earlier for running the affairs of the trust, said the PIL.
The newly constituted committee members have not yet met the Principal District Judge who was heading the ad-hoc committee. The committee has also not formally taken charge from him, the petition added.