Meghalaya HC strikes down State Parliamentary Secretaries Act

 Meghalaya HC strikes down State Parliamentary Secretaries Act
Meghalaya High Court


SHILLONG, NOVEMBER 9 (MExN): In a set back to the ruling Congress in Meghalaya, the High Court on Thursday struck down the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2005.


Delivering its judgment on the case on Thursday, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Ved Prakash Vaish held this act ‘invalid’ for want of legislative competence of the State Legislature and is, therefore, struck down.


In its order, the Court maintained that as a necessary corollary, the notifications appointing the Parliamentary Secretaries and other follow-up actions are declared void, for having been issued and carried out under an invalid enactment.


“To sum up, in our view, challenge to the validity of the Meghalaya Act of 2005 has to succeed in view of the law declared by the Supreme Court in Bimolangshu Roy’s case; and, therefore, the Meghalaya Act of 2005 is required to be declared invalid,” the order stated.


Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional a law enacted by Assam in 2004 that allowed appointment of parliamentary secretaries with the rank of minister of state.


“This declaration of law by the Supreme Court, on want of legislative competence of the State Legislature, is binding on all the Courts and obviously, if the said law is applicable to the present case, it shall have to be applied, irrespective of the pleadings of the parties,” the HC maintained.


The HC further maintained that in view of this clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the law is that there is no legislative competence of the State Legislature to create the new office of Parliamentary Secretary.


Meanwhile, the question regarding disqualification of 17 parliamentary secretaries as members of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly is left open for determination of the Governor, if raised in accordance with law.


“It is hardly a matter of any doubt that when a question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of the State has become subject to any of disqualifications mentioned in Article 191(1), the question has to be referred for the decision of the Governor; and the decision of the Governor in this regard, on the basis of the opinion of Election Commission, is final,” the order stated.


Meanwhile, according to a report, in few days a representation will be filed before the Governor of Meghalaya seeking disqualification of all the MLAs who were named in the PIL.


The Governor will also be requested to dismiss the present government as it has been reduced to a minority government with the disqualification of the above mentioned MLAs, the report said, adding that there is a “severe breakdown of constitutional machineries in the state of Meghalaya as MLAs were allowed to hold office of profits by this present government for more than 4 years.”


The Congress government had initially appointed 18 parliamentary secretaries, but made two of them cabinet ministers earlier this year. Of the 16, one has submitted resignation but the chief minister is yet to accept it. Congress has 29 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly.


Two independent MLAs had in August joined the BJP, which had no presence in the state legislature.


The state is heading for polls early next year.