The Orissa High Court has issued directions to the Governor to dispose of petitions seeking disqualification of lawmakers, appointed as chairpersons to district planning committees, under the Odisha Offices of Profit Amendment Act, 2016.
It may be noted that the Odisha Offices of Profit (Removal of Disqualifications) Amendment Act, 2016 was enacted with a retrospective effect from 18th January 2016 including certain categories of offices that would not attract such disqualification. Thereafter, the Odisha government had appointed Chairpersons to the 30 District Planning Committees with Minister of State rank and status on 9 August 2019.
The Petitioner Samarendra Beura then filed two petitions before the Governor in May and September 2019 under Article 192 of the Constitution of India seeking their disqualification (by obtaining the opinion of the Election Commission).
With petitions not being disposed of by the Governor, Beura tried to seek Orissa High Court’s intervention. However, he could not take the matter before the High Court as the members of the Orissa High Court Bar were on strike. Later he moved the Supreme Court, which disposed of the petition granting him liberty to approach the High Court. Thereafter the petition moved the Orissa High Court again.
“In view of the limited nature of the relief sought for and without expressing any opinion whatsoever on the merits of the petition, or the Odisha Offices of Profit (Removal of Disqualifications) Amendment Act 2016, this court directs that petitioner’s two petitions shall be disposed of by the Governor of Odisha, after obtaining an opinion from the Election Commission of India, not later than November 8, 2021. The decision of the Governor of Odisha shall be communicated to the Petitioner not later than 15 November 2021”, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice S.K. Panigrahi ordered.