The Bombay High Court has upheld the termination of service of the chairman of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and disposed of his plea that the appointment of the transport minister in his place would affect powers of the government to run the body.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and C V Bhadang in their recent order refused to order reinstatement of Jeevanrao Gore as chairman of the Board of Directors of MSRTC.
The court, however, quashed and set aside the termination of service of three non-official directors of the Board. The bench was hearing petitions filed by Gore and the directors namely Babasaheb Mulik, Manohar Pashilkar and Anandrao Patil who challenged termination of their service from the MSRTC board of directors.
Gore and others were appointed on August 6, 2012 to the board. On December 23, 2014 the government issued an order terminating their services with effect from January 22, 2015 in pursuance to amendment in rules under the Road Transport Corporation Act by which the minister in-charge of the transport department was to be made the ex-officio chairman of the Board.
Gore in his petition argued that if the minister of the transport department is appointed to head such a corporation then the state government would lose its power over the corporation. Advocate General Sunil Manohar, however, pointed out that a large number of statutory corporations or authorities are headed either by chief minister or state ministers.
"Fourteen corporations/statutory authorities are headed by either the chief minister or the minister in charge of the departments concerned," Manohar said. Conceding with him, the high court observed that the state government has been conferred wide powers to control the functioning of MSRTC.
"Merely because a minister is the chairman of the said corporation we fail to see as to how the plenary powers of the state government conferred under the Act to control MSRTC are affected in any manner," the bench noted.
Though the high court quashed and set aside the order terminating the service of directors to the Board of MSRTC, the court said it cannot direct for reinstatement of Gore as the chairman of the board.
"We cannot permit the petitioner to continue in the post of the chairman as in the light of the Amendment Rules, the minister in-charge of the transport department will be the ex-officio chairman of the Board of Directors of MSRTC," the court said.