Lawyer moves HC against Punjab move to appoint 6 MLAs as advisers

Chandigarh, September 10: A day after Punjab Government appointed six MLAs as advisers to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, their appointments were challenged before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday.

One of the grounds for challenging the impugned order is that it was issued by an authority that was not constitutionally competent.

In his petition filed in public interest, advocate Jagmohan Singh Bhatti has, among other things, stated that the impugned orders have been issued illegally, arbitrarily and in violation of the Constitutional provisions.

“It is submitted that the Chief Secretary of Punjab has no authority to issue such orders in the specific provisions of Constitution of India,” Bhatti has submitted.

Elaborating, he has added that the Constitution of India regulates the size of the ministry and empowers only the Governor of Punjab to issue such orders. Bhatti has added that the orders invite action for offenses under the criminal laws and amount to corrupt practices as the State is accountable towards its people. The petition, as of now, has only been filed with the high court registry and is yet to come up for hearing.

Bhatti has also stated that that the expansion would violate 15 per cent ceiling on ministers’ appointment in accordance with the 91st Constitutional amendment.

“The Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total number of the Legislative Assembly of that State. In the present case it exceeds 15 per cent of the total strength of the house… The respondent State of Punjab while appointing Ministers exceeding 15 per cent of the house strength has flouted the Constitutional amendment,” Bhatti added in his petition filed in public interest.

Bhatti asserted the respondent, the State of Punjab, has 117 assembly members in the Vidhan Sabha. In view of the 91st Amendment, the number of ministers in the state could not exceed 17.

Bhatti added the expenses for the oath ceremony, the monthly salary and other perks, including vehicle and accommodation, along with staff, too would have to be borne by the State, which was a burden on the government exchequer.