Bill exempting CM’s political secy okayed

Bill exempting CM’s political secy okayed

RAISING VOICE: BJP members stage a protest in the Legislative Council demanding a discussion on the problems faced by North Karnataka, during the legislature session in Belagavi on Friday. dh photo

A Bill that exempts a legislator appointed as the chief minister’s political secretary from the office-of-profit clause was passed by both Houses of the legislature without any debate on Friday, the last day of the winter session at Belagavi.

Apparently, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is planning to appoint a few disgruntled legislators, upset at not being made ministers, as his political secretaries.

Already, Parliamentary secretaries are exempt from disqualification under the office-of-profit clause, which had landed over a dozen Aam Aadmi Party legislators in Delhi in soup earlier this year.

The Karnataka Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was passed amid a din and sloganeering by the Opposition BJP. The Bill exempts a political secretary from facing disqualification for being a member of the Assembly or the Council.

A political secretary assists and advises the chief minister on decisions pertaining to political affairs. The late N Dharam Singh had appointed Congress MLC N S Bose Raju as his political secretary whereas BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa had his trusted lieutenant B J Puttaswamy for the post. Kumaraswamy’s predecessor Siddaramaiah had appointed 10 Parliamentary secretaries.

A political secretary to the chief minister is entitled to salaries and facilities like bungalows, vehicles, travel and dearness allowances on par with a Cabinet minister.

Amid the din, another Bill to protect the interests of SC, ST and OBC candidates during recruitment to state civil services was also passed in both Houses.

The Karnataka Civil Service (Procedure for Selection of Candidates during Recruitment) Bill, 2018 seeks to circumvent a 2012 High Court order to restore an old rule that SC, ST and OBC candidates who score high marks figure in the general merit list as well as under the reservation quota.

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge and Backward Classes Minister C Puttarangashetty were up in arms after the government, last month, advised the Karnataka Public Service Commission to follow the High Court order.

The ministers complained that this would render “injustice” to the SC, ST and OBC candidates.

Lastly, the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which provides for appointing a professor with five years of experience as the university’s registrar was tabled, but not taken up for consideration.