In a major jolt to the Himachal Pradesh Congress government, the H P High Court has restrained it from giving perks, facilities and from performing ministerial duties to six Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) appointed by the Congress government .
Hearing a petition filed by eleven BJP MLAs terming the appointment of 6 Congress MLAs as CPS, the Himachal High Court passed these orders.
Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government after coming to power in the state 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 Apex court had already turned down the plea of the state government some time back seeking transfer of the petitions pertaining to CPSs and clubbing the petition with similar petitions related to appointment of CPS by Chhattisgarh, Punjab and West Bengal governments, pending in the Apex court.
The appointments of CPSs have 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.
The counsel of the petitioner’s senior advocate Satya Paul Jain in a press conference said, “The court cited Article 164 of the Indian Constitution, emphasizing that the size of the council of ministers should not exceed 15 percent of the legislature and deemed the violation of this article for giving perks and privileges equivalent to Cabinet Minister to CPS’ .”
A Division Bench of HP High Court comprising Chief Justice VK Gupta and Justice Deepak Gupta had quashed the appointment of nine CPS’ appointed by Virbhadra Singh government in 2005.
Former Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has welcomed the decision of the High Court and said the state government was giving facilities to CPS’ against norms .
However, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has been claiming the appointments of CPSs have been made as per legal provisions.