Parliamentary Secretaries’ posting justified

October 09, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 08:06 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The appointment of 21 ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries to the Ministers in Delhi earlier this year was meant to assist the Ministers and ensure their effective functioning, while the creation of these posts did not amount to bringing a new public office into existence.

Making this submission before the Delhi High Court, the Delhi government on Wednesday justified the decision for appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries and affirmed that they were assisting the Ministers in ‘connecting to the public and the rest of the Assembly and ensuring a harmonious functioning’.

In an affidavit filed before a Division Bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, the AAP government stated that it had neither created an office akin to the Council of Ministers, nor had it imposed an additional hierarchy upon the Delhi Assembly.

The reply was filed in response to the court’s notice issued on July 2 on a public interest litigation moved by a non-government organisation, Rashtriya Mukti Morcha, which had sought quashing of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s March 13 order for appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.

Refuting the petitioner’s claim that this was an unconstitutional and illegal order passed in violation of the Transaction of Business Rules, the government said this was a ‘long-standing practice’ in all States. “The Parliamentary Secretaries are not provided any dedicated vehicle, driver or other support systems...They do not have any executive powers and are not responsible for decision making unlike the Ministers.”

Besides, the Parliamentary Secretaries do not get access to confidential documents which are exclusively within the domain of the Ministers, according to the affidavit.

The government said since these were political appointments and not an executive action, there was no need for sending the matter to the Lieutenant-Governor. It was not a case of bypassing the statutory functions of the L-G, stated the affidavit.

The government also affirmed that the Parliamentary Secretary’s post was a non-remunerative post created for executive convenience and to ensure a more participatory form of governance, as the Parliamentary Secretary could help strengthen the synergy between the executive and legislative wings of the government.

The petitioner NGO, on the other hand, had sought the court’s directions for restraining the 21 MLAs from functioning as Parliamentary Secretaries till the final disposal of the petition.

Government said that they were assisting the Ministers in ‘connecting to the public and the rest

of the Assembly

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