Ninety-three parliamentary secretaries across five Northeastern states stand to lose their jobs after the Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped the Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 2004. The apex court while passing the order said that the state Assembly was not competent to pass such an Act. With the apex court scrapping the Assam Act, similar Acts in the other states too now automatically become null and void.
At 31, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest number of parliamentary secretaries. It is followed by Nagaland with 26 such offices, Meghalaya (17) Manipur (12) and Mizoram (7). While Tripura has never appointed a parliamentary secretary, the present BJP-led government in Assam has also not appointed any till now.
All these states had enacted their respective Acts to appoint parliamentary secretaries with the intention of accommodating legislators who did not find place in ministries after the 91st Amendment to the Constitution that had restricted the size of ministries to a maximum of 15 per cent of the total Assembly strength.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, R K Agarwal and Abhay Manohar Sapre also said that Article 194 of the Constitution does not authorise the State Legislatures to create such offices — of Parliamentary Secretaries. The apex court judgment was issued in connection with a writ petition filed by former Assam BJP MLA Bimolangshu Dey, who had in 2005 filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court challenging the Constitutional validity the Act that created posts of Parliamentary Secretaries.