In a major setback to Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu led Congress government of Himachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court of India has dismissed the petition of the state government pleading transfer of case from HP High Court to the Apex Court in appointments of six Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs).
The state government during hearing of several petitions challenging the appointments of CPSs in the Himachal Pradesh High Court had moved the Supreme Court of India pleading clubbing the petitions with several petitions pending in the Apex Court in similar appointments of CPSs by Chhattisgarh, Punjab and West Bengal governments.
Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government had appointed six ruling party MLAs i.e. Arki MLA Sanjay Awasthi, Doon MLA Ram Kumar, Rohru MLA Mohan Lal Brakta, Palamapur MLA Ashish Butail, Kullu MLA Sunder Singh Thakur and Baijnath MLA Kishori Lal as CPS.
The appointments of CPSs has been quite controversial as the petitioners challenging the appointments have been terming the appointments as violation of the Supreme Court direction to restrict the strength of a Cabinet not exceeding 15 percent of total number of MLAs /MPs.
However, several state governments have been appointing CPSs over and above the number of Cabinet Ministers.
A Division Bench of HP High Court comprising Chief Justice VK Gupta and Justice Deepak Gupta had quashed the appointment of nine CPSs appointed by Virbhadra Singh government in 2005 after the appointments were challenged in the Court.
Sat Pal Jain appearing for the petitioners challenging the appointments said, “The petition of the HP Government seeking clubbing the petitions with similar petitions pending in the Supreme Court has been dismissed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice SVN Bhatti.”
The Leader of Opposition Jai Ram Thakur welcoming the decision said, “All efforts of the state government to prolong the case by getting it transferred to the Supreme Court have been defeated by the Apex Courts’ decision.”
However, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has been claiming the appointments of CPSs have been made as per legal provisions.