The HC was hearing a plea filed in January 2018 after former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had appointed eight such parliamentary secretaries.

Karnataka HC strikes down law allowing CMs to appoint Parliamentary Secretaries
news Law Sunday, January 05, 2020 - 11:03

Calling it “unconstitutional”, the Karnataka High Court has struck down the Karnataka Parliamentary Secretaries Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1963, which was amended in 1999. 

This means that the Chief Minister cannot appoint any MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly) or MLC (Members of Legislative Council) to the post of Parliamentary Secretaries, and in the process, give them the same salary and allowances as a Minister. Currently, the number of ministers that a CM can appoint is regulated by Article 164(1-A) of the Constitution.

The High Court contended that the state legislature had no “legislative competence” to pass such a law, reported The New Indian Express. A Parliament Secretary often holds the rank of Minister of State and is assigned to a government department.

The Times of India reported that the HC also referred to Bimolanghsu Roy case and observed that the Supreme Court had already decided on the matter and said the state Assembly could not pass a law to allow the appointment of parliamentary secretaries.

The judgment on Saturday was given by a division bench headed by Chief Justice AS Oka. The HC was hearing a plea by Bengaluru-based activist Adinarayana and advocate KB Vijaykumar. The case was filed in January 2018 after former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had appointed eight such parliamentary secretaries.

In his plea, he contended that this allowed CMs to violate the 15% limit as per Article 164(1-A). The Constitution mandates that the council of ministers cannot go beyond 15% of the total number of MLAs.

The directive comes at a time when Karnataka cabinet expansion is yet to take place. CM BS Yediyurappa had promised the newly-elected MLAs that they will be made ministers in the cabinet.

The HC noted that the Act worked as a means of giving the post of parliamentary secretaries to those MLAs/ MLCs who cannot be given ministerial portfolios. The HC further said having this law will completely nullify the upper ceiling mandated by the Constitution.

Meanwhile, CM BS Yediyurappa is yet to be given a go-ahead by the BJP central leadership to appoint the rebels of the former Congress-JD(S) coalition, who won the recent bye-polls. Their victories have cemented the stability of the state government after their resignation/disqualification paved the way for him to become the CM.

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