The Delhi High Court Thursday set aside the AAP government’s notification to appoint 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, after the government conceded that the decision had been taken without the concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
The bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal held that in the light of its judgment issued in August regarding the powers of the Delhi government, it was “mandatory” for the AAP to communicate the decision of the cabinet to the LG for his approval.
“The issue is squarely covered by the decision,” said the bench, after senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for the government, conceded that the 13 March, 2015 notification for appointment of parliamentary secretaries had been passed without the LG’s concurrence or approval.
“Accordingly, without going into other contentions raised in the writ petition, the impugned order is set aside,” held the bench.
During brief arguments on behalf of the central government, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and advocate Jasmeet Singh said the post of parliamentary secretaries falls within “office of profit” as defined in earlier Supreme Court judgments. The court, however, declined to go into the issue.
The order was passed on a PIL filed by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha. It had sought scrapping of the appointments on grounds that they were “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction”.
The NGO had alleged that the government “did not have the power to appoint parliamentary secretaries” as it would “constitute an additional rung of hierarchy” in the council of ministers, violating the Constitutional and legal principles.
The PIL has also raised the issue of whether the government could have appointed MLAs as parliamentary secretaries through an executive order and without proper authorisation from the LG.
The issue was also taken up by the Election Commission (EC) on a complaint filed by a lawyer seeking disqualification of the 21 MLAs for holding an “office of profit”. The EC had reserved its order on the issue on August 29 and is expected to take a decision soon.