The Delhi High Court on Thursday set aside the AAP government’s order appointing 21 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries since it lacked the approval of the Lieutenant Governor (LG), the administrative head of Delhi.
The court order came after the AAP government conceded that since the order was passed without the approval of the LG, it went against the August 4 order of the High Court holding the LG’s approval to be mandatory. The Bench was hearing a petition by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha seeking > scrapping of the appointments for being “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction.”
“The specific plea of the petitioner [NGO] that the impugned order dated March 13, 2015 was passed without communicating the decision to the Lieutenant Governor for his views/concurrence has not been disputed by the Respondents (Delhi government). Therefore, we find force in the submission of the petitioner that the issue is squarely covered by the decision [of the HC passed on August 4]...Accordingly, without going into the other contentions raised in the writ petition, the impugned order dated March 13, 2015 is hereby set aside,” said the Bench.
Lt. Governor’s nod mandatory, says High Court
The AAP government had earlier challenged the petition by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha seeking scrapping of the appointments of 21 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries for being “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction.”
It had said the appointments were made for smooth functioning of the government.
However, on Thursday, senior counsel Sudheer Nandrajog referred to the Delhi High Court’s August 4 judgment and conceded that since the order appointing the Parliamentary Secretaries was without the Lieutenant Governor’s sanction, nothing remains in it.
To this, the Bench said: “Having considered the very same issue in petition titled Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India & Ors in a judgment dated August 4, this court held that it is mandatory under the constitutional scheme to communicate the decision of the council of ministers to the Lt. Governor even in relation to the matter in respect of which power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi under Article 239AA of the Constitution and an order thereon can be issued only where the Lt Governor does not take a different view and no reference to the Central government is required ...”
Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Jain apprised the Bench of the fact that the Election Commission had also reserved its order in a petition seeking disqualification of the MLAs for holding the post of Parliamentary Secretaries which was contended to be “office of profit.”
The AAP government said the MLAs would not be given additional perks for holding this office.