Row over MSCW chief post reaches Supreme Court

Mumbai: The face-off between the Shiv Sena and the BJP over the post of chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) has escalated. The sitting chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, who is also the national president of BJP's women wing, moved the Supreme Court on Thursday morning seeking protection of her post.

In her plea filed through advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar, the MSCW chief has taken exception to a recent order of the Bombay High Court, which 'compelled' the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to remove her from the commission. The HC bench led by Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari had last week passed an order and termed Rahatkar's appointment as a 'political' one.

Opposing the observations of the HC, Rahatkar has urged the SC to stay the said orders, contending that her post is a statutory one and has nothing to do with the change in the government.

“The HC is compelling the state government to remove me from the post of the chairperson of the commission and make a new appointment. I have been appointed as the chairperson from February 2019 for a period of three years. I am giving my best to the commission by initiating and implementing various innovative programmes,” Rahatkar's plea reads.

“In its orders passed on January 22, the HC has literally compelled the state to remove me. While passing the impugned order, the HC did not consider that my appointment is by way of statute i.e. the Maharashtra State Commission for Women Act, 1993,” the MSCW chief has argued.

She has further cited the provisions of the MSCW act of 1993, which provide for the removal of the chairperson from the office, but only in 'exceptional circumstances' and not otherwise.

Notably, the HC bench of Justice Dharmadhikari in his orders had observed, “We do not know whether the political appointment made to the post of chairperson of this commission will continue with the change in the government. In other words, a new political dispensation has assumed power and it may not like to continue the present chairperson Rahatkar as such.”

“We expect all concerned about the position in law that the chairperson cannot continue to hold office when the present political dispensation is keen to appoint a chairperson of its choice. We expect that before the next date, we will be informed about the appointment of the new chairperson,” Justice Dharmadhikari had observed.

Aggrieved by these observations, Rahatkar has argued that the judge erred in observing that the new political dispensation may not like her to continue as the chairperson of the commission.

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