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Advocate General Darius Khambata as amicus curie (friend of court) has been appointed by the Bombay High Court to help  it in a petition filed by former vice-chairman of Scheduled Tribe Certificate Scrutiny (STCS) Committee Shriniwas Karve, challenging three breach of privilege notices issued to him.

The former Vice Chairman of STCS had moved the High Court in October 2010, seeking quashing of privilege proceedings before the state legislature, on the ground that his office was a quasi-judicial authority.

Last week, the Advocate General withdrew from the case, saying that a breach of privilege notice was pending against himself (over an affidavit he had filed on behalf of government in another case).

However, on March 26, additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande informed the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A V Mohta that the notice against Khambata had been withdrawn. The bench then appointed Khambata as amicus curie in this case.

Karve is currently under suspension.

The breach of privilege motions against him were moved by (then) opposition leader in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Pandurang Phundkar (BJP) and MLAs Yashomati Thakur (Congress) and Suresh Dhas (NCP) (who is also the chairman of SC/ST Welfare Committee). While tabling the motion in November 2007, Phunkar had alleged that Karve misbehaved with him when he sought details about pending proceedings regarding a supporter.

According to Karve, when Phundkar demanded to know on what basis he had cancelled a caste certificate, he refused to respond as the proceedings are quasi-judicial and sub-judice.

In June 2010, Thakur moved a motion against Karve when he refused to issue a caste validity certificate to his supporter. The third motion for breach of privilege was moved by Dhas when Karve remained absent for a meeting.

Karve’s plea is that these alleged incidents are not related to privilege, but show that he was being forced, by the politicians, to decide in favour of someone or the other.

“As the petitioner refused to bow down, the action…Is taken by the respondents.

Therefore, the question whether the alleged incidences fall in the category of breach of privilege is to be decided by the High Court,” the petition says. It will come up for hearing in due course.

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