Gujarat BJP minister challenges Governor's assent
Ahmedabad: Gujarat minister of state for Fisheries Purshottam Solanki on Tuesday moved the High Court seeking setting aside of the sanction granted by Governor Kamla Beniwal to prosecute him for his alleged role in a Rs 400 crore fishing contracts scam.
"We have challenged the decision of the Governor overruling the council of ministers and granting the prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act," said Solanki's counsel Prakash Thakkar.
"In our petition we have sought Governor's decision to be declared unconstitutional and requested the HC to set aside the decision taken by Governor of Gujarat," he said.
The governor on July 26 passed an order overruling the state cabinet led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, which had refused the sanction for Solanki's prosecution.
One Ishaq Maradia had alleged that Solanki granted fishing contracts in 2009 without floating any tender which resulted in loss to the tune of Rs 400 crore to the state exchequer. Maradia had requested the state authority to grant permission for filing an FIR against Solanki for his alleged role in the irregularity.
However, the state cabinet under Modi had twice rejected the application seeking prosecution of the minister.
After the high court order, the state government was compelled to forward its decision of not sanctioning the minister's prosecution to the governor who in turn approved the prosecution.
"Application of Ishaq Maradia is hereby allowed and sanction under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act is hereby granted for the prosecution of Purushottam Solanki, Minister of State for Fisheries under sections 7, 8, 13(1)(d) of the prevention of corruption act in respect of the allegations contained in the application," the governor said in her order.
Solanki contended in his petition that under the
scheme of the Constitution, prescribed under Article 163, Governor has to act upon the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
"There shall be a council of ministers with chief minister as the head to aid and advise governor in exercise of his/her functions," reads the Article 163 of the Constitution of India.
"In this case, the council of ministers, headed by CM had twice made their opinion and decision clear," said Thakkar.
The petition further said that as per the scheme of Constitution, governor has been assigned with certain discretionary powers too, but that he/she has to use according to the law established by different judgments of the Supreme Court.
According to the petitioner, the governor's decision of overruling state cabinet on the issue of prosecuting a member of the state cabinet doesn't fall under the purview of the discretionary powers.
The petition is likely to come up for hearing in next few days.