Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Wednesday rejected a petition seeking a direction to the state government to withdraw its decision to confer the prestigious "Maharashtra Bhushan" award on veteran historian and writer Babasaheb Purandare.
A bench of justices Naresh Patil and S B Shukare turned down the petition, saying that it was devoid of merits.
The judges also imposed costs of Rs 10,000 on the petitioners.
The HC judgement comes as a huge relief to the state government as the function to confer the award to Purandare is slated to be held today. With this, the government can go ahead with the scheduled function.
Calling it a "publicity stunt," state Advocate General Anil Singh said the petition should be dismissed as it was not maintainable.
He said the state government had announced in the media way back in May that the award would be conferred on Purandare. Why the petitioners had filed the plea so late? he asked.
Singh also submitted that the state-appointed committee had done its job properly in selecting the award winner.
The petition, filed by Padmakar Kamble and Rahul Okade, alleged that the eligibility criteria was not followed while selecting the awardee and hence the decision process was "arbitrary and reflected non-application of mind."
The petitioner alleged that names of several eminent personalities such as social worker Prakash Amte, thespian Dilip Kumar, mega star Amitabh Bachchan and singer Asha Bhosle were short-listed for the award. However, the name of Purandare was included at the last minute and hence the procedure was not followed in letter and spirit.
The petition said that the rules for selecting the award-winner have been set out in Government Resolution of September 1, 2012, however, they are not being followed.
Maharashtra Bhushan is the highest and prestigious award presented annually by the state government since 1996 for significant contribution in various fields. It was initially conferred in the fields of literature, science, arts and sports. Later, other fields such as social work, health services, journalism and public administration were included.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs five lakh, a memento and citation. The winners are selected by a committee appointed by the state government.