The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Principal Secretary to the Jharkhand Governor on a writ petition challenging the Governor's action in repeatedly appointing non-MLAs Chief Minister in exercise of his powers under Article 164 (4) of the Constitution.
(Under this Article, a non-MLA can remain Minister for six months and within this period he/she should get elected to the Assembly.)
A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph also issued notice to the former and present Chief Ministers, Shibu Soren and Arjun Munda, both appointed under Article 164 (4).
The petitioner, social activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, questioned the continuous, brazen, violation and misuse of Article 164 (4) by the respondents, with the successive appointment of non-legislators as Chief Minister during the same term of the Assembly, thereby sidelining the popular mandate of the electorate.
This “is totally against the constitutional scheme” and “amounts to subverting the Constitution.”
Mr. Bhattacharya pointed out that Mr. Soren held the post for three tenures without ever becoming MLA.
Mr. Munda was sworn in as Chief Minister on September 11, 2010 and he was yet to get himself elected to the Assembly.
Questions of law
The petition raised important questions of law, Mr. Bhattacharya said. Can, on the resignation of a non-legislator Chief Minister for failing to get elected MLA, another non-legislator be appointed to the post during the term of the same Assembly by again taking recourse to Article 164 (4)? Is not repeated recourse to Article 164 (4) during the same term of the Assembly in total derogation of the constitutional scheme? Can the popular mandate of the electorate be made subordinate time and again to the exception provided under Article.164 (4) in view of the fact that recourse to it has not been able to provide a stable government in the last 10 years, Jharkhand having already witnessed eight governments including the present one?
The petitioner sought a direction to the Governor's Secretary to revoke the appointment of Mr. Munda and to forthwith stop the repeated misuse and derogation of Article 164 (4) by Mr. Soren and Mr. Munda. He also wanted a direction to Mr. Munda to resign the post.