Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has pulled up Maharashtra government for not taking decision on converting 'Jath' gram panchayat in Sangli district into a municipal council despite its earlier direction to the Council of Ministers to look into the issue.

Hearing a petition, a bench comprising Justices Ajay Khanvilkar and S S Shinde asked the state government on Wednesday to explain in clear terms what the policy of the Cabinet was when the court gave a direction to consider a particular issue.

"Should the Cabinet ignore the Court order or go into the issue?...When we give a direction, does the cabinet take it seriously and take up on a priority basis or does it just sideline the issue?" asked the judges, who were visibly upset over the government's apathy towards the issue.

The court has asked the secretary of the concerned department to file an affidavit by May 9 on why the state had not considered this issue so far despite the order of the judges and also state what is the policy of the cabinet on court's directions.

The judges also said if they were not satisfied with the affidavit by the secretary concerned then they would ask the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit. The bench also asked Advocate General Uday Warunjikar to assist the court in the matter.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Sripad Ashtekar, a resident of Sangli, urging for a direction to convert 'Jath' gram panchayat into Municipal Council as it fulfilled all the norms.  The petition urged the authorities to consider the proposal expeditiously.

Earlier, the Jath gram panchayat had passed a resolution to convert the civic body into a municipal council. Even the Sangli Collector had recommended the move.

Jath is a big town and is developing at a fast rate. It fulfills all the criteria for changing gram panchayat into a municipal council.

Last year, hearing the same petition, the court had directed the state cabinet to consider the issue expeditiously. However, the matter has been pending so far, thereby inviting the Court's anger towards the issue.

(Agencies)

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