Government of Maharashtra witnessed many embarrassing situations during the ongoing monsoon session of its assembly. The biggest embarrassment came when Sanjay Dutt, a Congress member of legislative council, asked for a discussion on the issue of the pending appointment of advocate general.
The Speaker of the House initially did not accept the motion for debate saying that it had been submitted just two hours before the business of the House began and not a day before as stated in the rules. But he allowed Dutt to speak on the issue for two minutes.
Dutt, while citing the provisions of Article 165 of the constitution, said, "The state government without an advocate general is incomplete from constitutional perspective. The governor of each state 'shall' appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed as Judge of High Court to be advocate general for the state."
He pointed out that the state government in Maharashtra is functioning unconstitutionally for over four months without appointing a constitutional authority like advocate general. He added that Rohit Jog has had the charge of 'acting advocate general' since March 23, 2016, when Shrihari Aney resigned from the post. Dutt pointed out a valuable point from the Constitution: "An additional or acting advocate general, under the law has no Constitutional authority to address the house of legislature, nor can he perform the statutory functions."
The present government had appointed Sunil Manohar as advocate general after it came to power in November 2014 but he resigned in June 2015. After his resignation, additional solicitor general Anil Singh, was given temporary charge of acting advocate general until the appointment of Aney as advocate general in October 2015. Aney resigned in March 2016 following a huge controversy after his open statements for the creation of Vidarbha state. "This government did not appoint the most important constitutional post for almost half of the term since assuming power in 2014. This is a very ad-hoc and callous attitude," said Dutt.
After realising the fact that the advocate general is not only a mandatory constitutional authority, but also has a right to address the House of Legislature, the embarrassment on the faces of ministers and even the Speaker was visible. The absence of this Constitutional authority makes business unconstitutional and his duties as envisaged in the Article 165 are not being performed, just because the authority is not appointed. The Speaker merely said he has already refused to admit the motion to debate. But he asked the government, looking at the gravity of the situation, to explain this to the House after consulting with the chief minister.