SHILLONG, April 20: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by a citizen of the state challenging the appointment of 18 parliamentary secretaries in the state by the Congress led Meghalaya United Alliance government.
The PIL was filed by an individual, Madal Sumer, who is a resident of West Jaintia Hills district.
A controversy has recently erupted in Meghalaya over the appointment of around 18 parliamentary secretaries by the Congress government. Jirang legislator Lamboklang Mylliem had resigned from his post last month following reports that the appointment of parliamentary secretaries had violated norms.
Although the appointments were made since 2013, it was only recently that reports had surfaced that such appointments could have violated the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003.
The amendment had stipulated that the strength of council of ministers across states should not be more than 15 per cent of the total number of members of the respective state Assembly.
Through this amendment, Meghalaya could have only 12 ministers, including the chief minister.
According to the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous provisions) Act, 2005, it has been stated that the rank and status of a parliamentary secretary would be that of a minister of state.
But as per the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Meghalaya Assembly, “minister means a member of the council of ministers, a minister of state, a deputy minister or a parliamentary secretary.” However, last week, the Meghalaya Cabinet approved the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretary (appointments, salaries, allowances and miscellaneous provisions) Ordince 2016. The Ordince is aimed at removing doubts that may arise due to the appointments of parliamentary secretaries who are not equated to cabinet ministers.
In the ordince, the Cabinet proposed to delete Section 5 and amend Section 6 and 6A of the act. Section 5 of the Act earlier equated a parliamentary secretary to a cabinet minister. Meanwhile, a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice S.R. Sen has listed the matter on May 4.