STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 25th Oct: Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president TN Haokip on Wednesday petitioned the Governor of Manipur to disqualify 12 MLAs of BJP, who are holding the posts of Parliamentary secretaries in the BJP led government in the state.
Addressing media persons in this connection at Congress Bhawan here on Wednesday, TN Haokip informed that he has filed the petition to the Governor for disqualifying the 12 parliamentary secretaries under Article 192 of the Constitution of India. He further informed that the Governor assured to look into the matter.
Pointing out that Governor Dr Najma Heptulla had remained as Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha and she is well aware about the issues of Office of Profit, TN Haokip expressed hope that the Governor will take the right decision to deliver justice.
The MPCC chief disclosed that in his petition he recalled that the Supreme Court on July 26 this year held as unconstitutional a law enacted by Assam government in 2004 that allowed appointment of parliamentary secretaries enjoying the rank of minister of state. Striking down the Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004, the court had said, “Article 194 does not expressly authorise the state legislature to create offices such as the one in question.” An SC bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar, Justice RK Agrawal and Justice AM Sapre held that the legislature of Assam lacked the competence to create the post of parliamentary secretaries and declared the Act unconstitutional, he added.
TN Haokip further informed he pointed out that parliamentary secretaries are full time salaried members holding Office of Profit under the Government of Manipur in view of the provisions of the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowance and the Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012 and appealed to the Governor to disqualify the 12 parliamentary secretaries under relevant provisions of the Constitution of India.
The petition highlighted that 12 MLAs were appointed as parliamentary secretaries and they were subscribed to the Oath of Office and Secrecy in the presence of Chief Minister of Manipur. As per the order issued by Chief Minister N Biren on March 23, 2017, the parliamentary secretaries 'shall be attached to the ministers concerned and assist them in discharge of their duties and responsibilities'.
Subsequently, a separate notification dated 24/03/2017 was issued under which parliamentary secretaries were allotted and attached to the ministers concerned. It further mentioned that the parliamentary secretaries are receiving benefits such as pay and allowances and the status of a minister of state under the provision of the Act and are not receiving any pay and allowances as members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Though seven legislators namely L Rameshwor, N Indrajit, K Robindro, Th Satyabrata, H Dingo, Ashab Uddin and Dr S Ranjan have resigned from being parliamentary secretaries, they still enjoyed the office of profit in terms of the provisions of the Act while they were discharging their duties as parliamentary secretaries.
It further pointed out that The Assam Act 2004 and the provisions of the Act is akin to the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary Act 2012. In view of the principle of law laid down by the Supreme Court on July 26 regarding the parliamentary secretaries of Assam applicable in the case of validity of the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary Act, Manipur Legislative Assembly lacks competency to legislate the Act.
In spite of the order of the apex court, all of the 12 MLAs had enjoyed pay and allowances from the state government as parliamentary secretaries and five of them continue to hold the office of profit as parliamentary secretaries within the meaning of Article 191(1) of the Constitution of India, it mentioned.
As such, all the 12 MLAs are liable to be disqualified by the Governor of Manipur under Article 192, TN Haokip prayed in his petition.
Mention may be made that Khurai MLA L Susindro, Naoriya Pakhanglakpa MLA S Subhaschandra, Chingai MLA Khashim Vashum, Phungyar MLA K Leishiyo and Tamei MLA Awangbow Newmai are still holding the post of parliamentary secretaries after seven MLAs resigned from their respective post.