Shadow of PS over the head of BJP led Govt
Spirit of Art 164-1 (A)
This will not cast the BJP led Government at Imphal in any good light. The spirit behind Article 164-1 (A) of the Constitution of India should be understood and appreciated but in appointing 12 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries, the very decision of Parliament to amend Article 164 of the Constitution as Article 164-1 (A), stands defeated. It is this spirit which guided the High Court of Manipur to declare as invalid the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012 and the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Repealing Act. It was with a purpose why Parliament deemed it fit to amend Article 164 of the Constitution and the spirit behind this amendment should be understood and respected. However in appointing 12 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries, the very spirit of the amendment stands defeated and it is heartening to see the High Court of Manipur stepping in and annulling the appointment. Significant to note too that the High Court of Manipur is not the first High Court in the country to rule against the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries. It was on January 5 this year that the Karnataka High Court struck down as unconstitutional the Karnataka Parliamentary Secretaries (Salary, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions Act). A look at the reality should tell why appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries defeat the spirit of amending Article 164 of the Constitution for it violates the provisions of limiting the size of the Council of Ministers to 15 percent of the total number of MLAs in the Assembly. In the case of small States like Manipur, the maximum number of Ministers was fixed at 12.
It is little surprising then that the Congress has gone hammer and tongs against the appointment of 12 Parliamentary Secretaries with veteran O Joy stepping in and arguing that there is no reason why the 12 MLAs should not be disqualified under Article 191-I A for holding office of profit. This line of argument may be seen in the backdrop of the fact that a Parliamentary Secretary often works as a Minister of State, drawing salaries as a MoS from the GAD and not drawing salaries as an MLA. The veteran politician went on to recall that it was the Supreme Court of India which ruled that the law enacted by the Assembly of Assam to effect the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries was invalid back in 2006. Again back in 2006, Congress president Sonia Gandhi resigned as the MP of Rae Bareilly and as Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee after the then Opposition raised a hue and cry that she was holding office of profit and hence should resign from the post of MP. It is this line which the Congress here will use to demand the ouster of the 12 MLAs who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries. Only the coming days will reveal how the BJP responds to the development, but to be sure the ruckus kicked up over the post of Parliamentary Secretary will hang over the coming by elections and the Congress will leave no stone unturned to capitalise on this. This is where it can get murky.