IT HAS nearly been six months that former SAD leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia was made a cabinet minister by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after he joined SP last year. However, he is yet to be nominated to the Assembly — a prerequisite that has to be fulfilled within six months of one becoming a minister.
The deadline ends on April 30. If Ramoowalia has to continue as a minister, he has to become a member of the Assembly by April 30.
On October 31, last year, Akhilesh had surprised everyone by inducting Ramoowalia as a minister. At that time, he was not a member of either houses of the Assembly. Ramoowalia, who had resigned from SAD just a few hours before taking oath as a minister, was given the charge of the prisons department, which he holds till date.
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Article 164 of the Constitution’s Section 4 stated: “A minister, who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the legislature of the state shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a minister.”
At present, the only option that the government seems to have is to nominate Ramoowalia to one of the six vacant seats in the legislative council. These seats are to be filled through nomination. Five of these seats are vacant since May, last year, as Governor Ram Naik had refused to clear names proposed by the government citing objections and the rule book.
After repeatedly asking Akhilesh to suggest fresh names as required by the Constitution under fields for nomination — literature, art, social service, science and co-operative movement — Naik had returned the file on March 28, making it clear that the suggested names did not conform to these categories and thus, were not acceptable.
Meanwhile, another legislative council seat, which is to be filled through nomination, had fallen vacant on April 7. The term of 13 council members will also end on July 6.
Moreover, a senior official said that after April 30, when Ramoowalia ceases to be a minister, the government has the option of 1re-nominating him. This will get the government another six months to send Ramoowalia to the Assembly. He, however, added: “But a lot of explaining will be required… this will also be open for litigation.”
When contacted, Ramoowalia said: “The chief minister will take a call and I have full faith in him. I have worked honestly…”
Sources said the government is very cautious this time and Akhilesh is likely to personally take fresh names to the Governor. Naik, who is currently in Mumbai, is set to return on Wednesday. Sources said Akhilesh has already sought time from Naik for a meeting.
Asked about Ramoowalia’s case, Naik said: “There is still time till April 30. So, I will first wait till April 30 for a response from the government.”