New Delhi(PTI): Delhi High Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a PIL seeking quashing of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's order appointing 21 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries to ministers.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw listed the plea, which alleged that the appointment was "unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction", for hearing on May 20. The petition was filed by NGO 'Rashtriya Mukti Morcha', seeking direction to Ministry of Home Affairs, Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to restrain the 21 Delhi Legislative Members from acting as Parliamentary Secretary (PS) till the "final adjudication" of the plea.
The public interest litigation (PIL) sought quashing of Kejriwal's March 13 decision, saying the Chief Minister issued "unconstitutional and illegal order appointing 21 MLAs as PS in gross violation of the constitutional provisions of Article 239 AA of the Constitution of India and Section 44 (2) and (3) of the Transaction of Business of the Government of the national capital Territory of Delhi rules, 1993."
"Issue an appropriate order or direction in the nature of certiorari that the impugned order dated March 13, issued by the Chief Minister of Delhi is invalid and illegal, since all executive action or order issued by any department of the Delhi government are to be issued in the name of the LG and authenticated in the prescribed manner."
"... No prior sanction was obtained from the finance department regarding the expenditure to be incurred on the PS for using transport facilities and additional establishment cost and expenses as is mandatorily required under Transaction Business of the government," the plea said.
It further alleged that Kejriwal has unconstitutionally and illegally administered oath of office and secrecy on April 27 to the 21 MLAs as PS "without any authority of laws and as such is ab-initio void".
Some of the MLAs appointed as parliamentary secretaries by Kejriwal include Praveen Kumar to the education minister, Sharad Kumar to the revenue minister, Adarsh Shastri to the IT minister, Madan Lal to the vigilance minister, Shiv Charan Goel to the finance minister, Sanjeev Jha to the transport minister, Sarita Singh to the employment minister, Naresh Yadav to the labour minister, Jarnail Singh to the development minister, Rajesh Gupta, Rajesh Rishi and Anil Kumar Bajpai to the health minister.
Soon after coming to power, the government issued an order to appoint 21 AAP MLAs as parliamentary secretaries attached to government ministries. The government claimed this will facilitate smooth functioning but made it clear they will not receive any remuneration or perks of any kind from the government— meaning no burden on the exchequer.
The order, however, permits them to use government transport for official purposes and earmarked space in the minister's office to help them in official work. The move had attracted severe criticism from BJP, which claimed it was just a way to assuage the ambitions of the MLAs since the NCT Act provides an upper limit on the number of ministers in Delhi government.