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Act appointing parliamentary secretaries unconstitutional: Manipur HC declares

Correspondent IMPHAL, Sep 19 | Publish Date: 9/19/2020 1:17:01 PM IST

The Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Repealing Act, 2018 which the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur enacted to appoint parliamentary secretaries was declared invalid and unconstitutional by the High Court of Manipur.

It may be recalled that after the N Biren Singh-led BJP’s coalition government was formed in the state , the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary And Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Repealing Act, 2018 was enacted to enable appointment of 12 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.

The Act was an amended form of Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2012 which the then O Ibobi Singh led Congress government had enacted.

Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2012 is unconstitutional as the state legislature did not have the legislative competence to pass the Act.

As a corollary, it does not have the competence to pass the Repealing Act, 2018. When it has no competence to pass an Act, it does not have the authority to repeal it, as well.

Both the Acts have no legal force and have to be ignored and disregarded, stated a ruling of the chief justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and justice Ahanthem Bimol Singh of the High Court of Manipur. The bench declared that that the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2012 is unconstitutional. It further declared that the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (appointment, salary and allowances and miscellaneous provisions) Repealing Act, 2018 is also invalid and unconstitutional.

The ruling of the court was after hearing as many as four writ petitions filed against the appointment of 12 parliamentary secretaries by the N Biren Singh government in the state after the Repeal Act, 2018 was enacted.

Two Congress MLAs- Surjakumar Okram (son of former chief minister O Ibobi Singh) and DD Thaisii – were among the petitioners. They filed a joint petition challenging the constitutional validity of enacting the two Acts related with the appointment of parliamentary secretaries.

At the initial stage, the BJP-led coalition government passed the Repealing Act, 2018 so as to appoint 12 MLAs who missed ministerial berths as parliamentary secretaries.

However, seven of them later resigned from their posts after the appointment became a heated debate on legal as well as constitutional ground. However, 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.

While the case was pending with the High Court of Manipur, the opposition Congress had demanded disqualification of the 12 MLAs under article 192 of the Constitution.

One of the writ petitions also stated that all the 12 MLAs are liable to be disqualified by the Governor of Manipur under Article 192 as they enjoyed office of profit in terms of the provisions of the Act while discharging their duties as parliamentary secretaries.

 

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