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Parl Secy issue: Gov to decide fate of 17 Meghalaya legislators

Correspondent SHILLONG, NOV 14
Published on 14 Nov. 2017 11:14 PM IST
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All eyes are now on the Raj Bhavan to determine the fate of the 17 former parliamentary secretaries after the Meghalaya High Court struck down a state law providing for such appointments.
On November 9, the Meghalaya High Court had held invalid the state law providing for appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries, but left it to the Governor to determine if those who held the post should be disqualified from the Assembly.
The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Ved Prakash Vaish came on a PIL filed by state resident Madal Sumer, challenging the “extra constitutional and illegal” appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in the state.
A Raj Bhavan official said that Governor Ganga Prasad is waiting the reference of the state government and the assembly speaker on the court verdict on the appointment of parliamentary secretary. “The governor is yet to receive a reference from the government and assembly speaker on the court verdict (parliamentary secretary). Once we receive the communication from them, the office of governor will seek the suggestion of the election commission on the matter,” a Raj Bhavan official said on Tuesday.
According to Article 192 of the Constitution, if any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) of Article 191, the question will be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final.
Leaving it open to the Governor to decide on the parliamentary secretaries’ disqualification as assembly members, the bench had noted: “It is hardly a matter of any doubt that when a question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of the state has become subject to any of disqualifications mentioned in Article 191(1), the question has to be referred for the decision of Governor; and the decision of the Governor in this regard, on the basis of the opinion of Election Commission, is final.”
However 10 of the 17 legislators who quit as Parliamentary Secretaries after the High Court struck down a state law providing for such appointments have said there is no ground for their disqualification as members of the Assembly.
Sujit Dey, counsel for the 10 legislators, said that the issue of disqualification from the Assembly becomes “infructuous” since the post of Parliamentary Secretary itself has ceased to exist, and out of respect for the court verdict, all Parliamentary Secretaries had immediately resigned.
Hours after the verdict, 17 Parliamentary Secretaries quit their post. Meghalaya chief minister, Mukul Sangma, who accepted their resignation, defended their appointment and the law.
“This law has been enacted based on this mandate of the provisions of the Constitution by which we can prevent the members of the august house from getting disqualified from holding an office of profit wherein law says such office will be deemed as not as office of profit,” Sangma said.
However, Madal Sumer who submitted a representation to  Governor Prasad on Monday evening seek the disqualification of the legislators  named in the PIL citing that “they are no longer legislators for holding office of profit”.
Sumer urged the governor, the highest constitutional authority of the state, to exercise his power under Article 192 of the Constitution and to take a decision on the issue of disqualification. On July 26, the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional a law enacted by Assam in 2004 that allowed the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in the rank of Minister of State.

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