The BJP-led Maharashtra government has chosen acting Advocate General Rohit Deo as its next Advocate General, nine months after his predecessor Sreehari Aney quit the post following a huge row triggered by his espousal of statehood for the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
A meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, recommended elevation of Deo to the AG’s post to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, a senior official said.
Aney had courted controversy by advocating statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, which was vehemently opposed by the ruling partner Shiv Sena.
The Sena had then seized on the issue to target the BJP, which, as matter of policy, favoured smaller states, despite Fadnavis asserting that bifurcation of Maharashtra was not on his government’s agenda.
The government had recently filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, saying the post will be filled by the end of this month.
The Division Bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt, urging the court to direct the state to appoint an A-G under Article 165 of the Constitution.
The court had criticised the state for not complying with the deadline of December 23 and had adjourned the matter to January 9.
It had earlier observed that constitutional and statutory functions were suffering due to the non-appointment of the A-G and has hurt the cause of justice.
On November 18, 2014, Sunil Manohar was appointed as the A-G, but he resigned on June 9, 2015. On June 11, 2015, additional Solicitor General Anil Singh was given the additional post of acting A-G. On October 14, 2015, Aney was appointed as the A-G, and he resigned on March 22, 2016.
Reacting to the decision, Dutt claimed that the government was compelled to take a decision on the matter after he moved the high court.
In a tweet, Dutt said, “The government has conceded my demand and finally appointed Acting AG as AG.”
“However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis needs to answer why he waited for nine months to appoint Acting AG as the new AG,” said Dutt.
“Maharashtra Chief Minister speaks of good governance but his indecisiveness reflects lack of governance! If acting AG Rohit Deo only was to be made the AG, why the government had waited for 280 days?” he asked in another tweet.