Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday justified his government annulling 34 populist decisions taken by his predecessor Jitan Ram Manjhi days before demitting office, saying these were basically “non-decisions” as no laid down procedure was followed.
“The decision (to annul) was taken on the basis of legal opinion which advised so as no laid down procedures were followed,” Mr. Kumar said justifying decision of his Cabinet on Wednesday to annul approval given by Manjhi Cabinet on 34 items during the Cabinet meeting on February 10, 18 and 19.
“The decision (to annul) was taken not on the basis of merit of the items but on the basis of non compliance of procedure,” Mr. Kumar said.
“In a way these were ‘non-decisions’ as it did not follow set rules,” the Bihar Chief Minister said while justifying doing away with the 34 approvals given by Manjhi Cabinet before resigning on February 20.
“There was no Cabinet note for these approvals and it violated established rule of executive business,” Mr. Kumar said.
“In a way these were verbal decisions which was given the shape of Cabinet decision,” he said adding even they (the previous government of Manjhi) could not have implemented these “irregular” decisions.
“It could have invited scrutiny at some stage,” he said.
Mr. Kumar said it was first of its kind experience for him in his long experience of working in Union Cabinet as well in eight-and-a-half year of working in the State Cabinet.
“Had we gone ahead on these decisions we would have been party to the irregularities adopted in taking such decisions,” he said to drive home his point.
With even some leaders of supporting RJD party seeking review of the Cabinet decisions to annul 34 approved proposals of Manjhi Cabinet, Mr. Kumar stressed the departments have been given freedom to review merit of these proposals and if they find merit in them after following due procedure it could be brought before the Cabinet again.
“My USP is sushasan (good governance) and by vetting such irregular decisions I could have compromised with sushasan which is not possible...even we in Cabinet are not free to take any decisions without following procedures,” he said.
The items annulled included increasing fund for legislators from Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 3 crore annually under CM Development schemes from next fiscal, setting up a committee to study reservation for poor among forward castes, providing 13 months salaries to policemen instead of 12 months and reservation for backward, most backward and women applicants in contract of Road Construction department.