Soibam Rocky Singh, New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday set aside a government order appointing 21 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs as
parliamentary secretaries on the grounds that it was made without the lieutenant governor (L-G)’s approval.
The court’s decision came after the AAP-led Delhi government conceded that the appointment became invalid in light of the court’s August 4 verdict that declared the L-G as the administrative head of the national capital region.Chief justice G Rohini and justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha, which sought scrapping of the appointments, claiming it was “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction”.
The plea stated the chief minister had “no power, jurisdiction or authority” to administer the oath of office to parliamentary secretaries.
The Delhi government, led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, had appointed the parliamentary secretaries attached to government ministries after coming to power in February 2015.
However, a constitutional clause prohibits legislators or parliamentarians from holding any position with monetary or other benefits. Known as office of profit, the clause is aimed at reducing conflict-of-interest situations for public representatives.
It was the grounds on which President Pranab Mukherjhee refused to sign the bill that ratified the appointment in June.
The Delhi government, however, claimed the appointments will facilitate a smooth functioning. It also made it clear that the secretaries would not receive any remuneration or perks from the government, which meant the exchequer would face no additional burden.
The appointment order had permitted them to use government transport for official purposes and earmarked space in the ministers’ offices to help them in official work.
It further stated that the formation of the post did not amount to creation of a “public office”, and was meant “merely to assist the minister in connecting to the public and the rest of the assembly and ensuring a harmonious functioning”.
The court decision came on a day CM Kejriwal arrived in Ludhiana to a gathering of disgruntled AAP volunteers who alleged party tickets had been given to corrupt workers.
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