From A Correspondent
Shillong, Nov 13: Madal Sumer, the petitioner in the Parliamentary Secretary issue, met Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad on Monday to demand disqualification of 17 legislators after the Meghalaya High Court held the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2005 “invalid”.
Speaking to media persons outside the Raj Bhavan here, Augustine Shanpru of the Meghalaya Commercial Trucks Owners’ and Operators’ Association (MCTOOA), who accompanied Sumer, said: “The Governor had stated very clearly before the delegation that he would act as per Article 192 of the Constitution.”
The court had also has given the authority to the Governor to decide on the matter pertaining to disqualification of the MLAs holding the posts of Parliamentary Secretaries.
Article 192 of the Constitution deals with decisions on questions regarding disqualifications of members—
(1) If any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause ( 1 ) of Article 191, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final and
(2) Before giving any decision on any such question, the Governor shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion.
Quoting the Governor, Shanpru also stated that Prasad will consult legal experts and Assembly Speaker Abu Taher Mondal before taking any decision on the issue.
In the petition to the Governor, Sumer said that the appointments to the posts of Parliamentary Secretary were on the basis of the Act of 2005, which stands struck down.
Demanding the resignation of the 17 legislators, Sumer stated that by virtue of Section 6 of the Act, the offices of all Parliamentary Secretaries were entitled to receive salaries.
“The said MLAs continued to hold their respective post of parliamentary secretaries even after the pronunciation of Bimolangshu Roy’s case by the Apex Court on 26.07.2017 till the High Court of Meghalaya struck down their appointment in its order dated 09.11.2017,” Sumer said.
He also stated in the petition to the Governor that there is no dispute that all the 17 MLAs were holding the post under state which were capable of yielding pecuniary gain and as such they were holding the “Office of Profit” under the State of Meghalaya as per the proposition of the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
“The said MLAs are therefore liable to be disqualified for holding office of profit under Article 191 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India,” Sumer stated.
In the petition to the Governor, Sumer said though by virtue of the provision of Article 191(1)(a) of the Constitution the State legislature is empowered to make law exempting certain holder of office from the purview of disqualification.
“However, such power of the state legislature cannot be stretched to create extra-constitutional offices and being the same within the purview of exemption as contemplated under Article 191 (1) (a) of the constitution,” Sumer said.
He also said that the State’s power is confined/limited to extend of granting exemption to post which have legal and constitutional existence and therefore the post of parliamentary secretaries held by the MLAs are extra-constitutional posts without any legal sanctity and as such cannot have the exemption from being disqualified in terms of law making power of the state by operation of Article 191 (1) (a).
Sumer in his petition also stated that the State, instead of following the provisions of law as laid down by the Constitution of India and as interpreted by the Supreme Court, in order to ensure the survival of the present government brought in certain amendments in the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2005, which came into force on September 26, 2016.
“The said amendment was made after filing of the PIL apparently with an attempt to escape from the clutches of the law of land. The entire amendment an eye-wash and intended to cover up the failure of the state government,” Sumer said.