Maharashtra Assembly Deputy Speaker Post Vacant For 28 Months, Reveals RTI

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Maharashtra Assembly Deputy Speaker Post Vacant For 28 Months, Reveals RTI

The post has been lying vacant since the present BJP government came to power in October 2014.

Mumbai:  The post of Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly has not been filled for the last 28 months and has been lying vacant since the present BJP government came to power in October 2014, an RTI has revealed.

City-based RTI activist Anil Galgali had filed a query seeking information about this post.

Public Information Officer and Under Secretary of State Legislative Secretariat Subhash Nalawade, in his reply to the query said, "The 12th Maharashtra State Assembly was dissolved on completion of its term on November 8, 2014 and the 13th Assembly came into being on October 21, 2014. The state Legislative Assembly does not have Deputy Speaker since that day."

The reply also said that since 1937, twenty two persons were elected as the Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly and Vasant Purke was the last Deputy Speaker, who chaired the office from December 2010 to November 2014.

In response to this information, Mr Galgali said, "Keeping such a Constitutional post vacant for so long is violation of Article 178 of the Constitution. The Maharashtra government and the state Legislature Secretariat need to act on it immediately."

"The reply shows that the appointment to this post with constitutional powers and responsibilities had never been kept in abeyance ever since the Legislative Assembly was formed in 1937. This is the very first time that the members of this House has not elected a Deputy Speaker from amongst themselves," he added.

Article 178 of Constitution of India says that every Assembly should appoint two of its members as Speaker and Deputy Speaker as soon as possible, while Article 180 of the Constitution prclaims that Deputy Speaker will take over duties and responsibilities of the speaker in his absence.

Calls made and messages sent to the Principal Secretary of Legislature Secretariat Anant Kalse, failed to elicit any response.

When contacted, another official from the Secretariat said that the non-appointment of Deputy Speaker was a "political decision", but refused to comment further.

Repeated attempts to contact state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat did not fructify.

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Meanwhile, Opposition Congress slammed the BJP-led dispensation for keeping the post vacant. Former state Chief Minister and Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan dubbed this as another "undemocratic way" of the functioning of the BJP government.

"BJP has always believed in delayed appointments in the democratic process and the same is being followed in this case too. Earlier, it delayed appointment of Advocate General. This government is functioning in the most undemocratic way, this (vacant post) is one more example of it," Mr Chavan said.

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