Appointment of MLAs as parliamentary secretaries faces challenge

Appointment of MLAs as parliamentary secretaries faces challenge

Appointment of MLAs as parliamentary secretaries faces challenge
With the President declining assent to a bill passed by the Arvind Kejriwal government enabling it to appoint 21 Delhi MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries, a long legal battle is likely.

All eyes for now is set on the Election Commission for it has to decide a petition seeking disqualification of those MLAs for enjoying the “Office-of-Profit”.

Though the AAP government claimed that the MLAs, appointed Parliamentary Secretaries, were not taking a single penny, there are many apparent legal deficiencies as the Delhi government brought the bill in this regard with retrospective effect. The Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Bill, 2015 was passed by the Delhi Assembly in June 2015 with effect from February 2015.

The bill intended to amend the provision that the office of Parliamentary Secretary, hitherto, provided to the chief minister, would also include other ministers and would be exempt from disqualification.

The main arguments against such appointment is that it went against Article 239 AA of the Constitution, which fixed ceiling of 10% on the number of ministers of the total number of seats in the Assembly of a state and Union territory.

It is also seen as nothing but extending the privileges to some of the Members of Legislative Assembly who could not make it to the Council of Ministers. It is also argued that the move is nothing but elevating a good number of MLAs to the position of ministers under the guise of Parliamentary Secretary in violation of the Constitution.

Notably, similar decision by other state governments to appoint MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries faced legal challenge.

 The Karnataka government’s move to appoint 10 Parliamentary Secretaries and Punjab and Haryana government’s decision to give such posts to 19 and 4 MLAs, respectively, in the past were challenged in the court.

The Goa (2009) and West Bengal government’s decision (2015) were quashed by the high courts.