SC verdict on parliamentary Secretaries: A Perspective

Dr. Mechüselie Kehie
Rüzaphema Village, Dimapur

 

The Supreme Court of India on 26th July 2017 ruled that Article 194 and Entry 39 of list II of the 7th schedule do not empower state legislature to create new offices like parliamentary secretaries and declared the Assam Parliamentary secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004 as unconstitutional. In the backdrop of this SC judgement, Nagaland Tribes Council had filed PIL in Gauhati High Court Kohima bench against unconstitutional appointments of advisors and parliamentary secretaries by the state Government and the same was heard on 31st August, 2017. Apparently the SC judgement seems to have eluded the sight of the nonchalant Nagaland Government till date. This brings to the fore the total apathy and failure of the state machinery. It may be mentioned that in the wake of the SC verdict, all seven Parliamentary Secretaries of Mizoram resigned on 30th August, and the most recent en masse Parliamentary Secretaries’ resignation came to pass in Meghalaya on 9th Nov.

 

Nagaland state is under a heavy weight of fiscal deficits. The present system of creating office of parliamentary secretaries and advisors besides being unconstitutional, surely does add extra burden on the state’s exchequer, thereby augmenting the existing fiscal deficits rather than solving our fiscal irresponsibility. As per the RBI report, Nagaland gross fiscal deficit sky-rocketed from Rs. 1 Billion in 1991-92 to 11.6 Billion in the fiscal year 2015-2016, the highest fiscal deficit in 16 years since 1991. Perhaps, in lieu of parliamentary secretaries and advisors, the legislature should consider legislating a State Advisory Council (SAC) similar to the National Advisory Council of the UPA regime, wherein eminent personalities from diverse field of expertise were pooled in to advice the PM of India.

 

Renowned personalities such as Prof. M.S. Swaminathan (Indian father of Green Revolution), Prof. Narendra Jadhav (Educationist), Prof. Pramod Tandon (Biotechnologist), Aruna Roy (Activist), Jean Dreze (Economist), Madhav Gadgil (Ecologist), Anu Anga (Businessperson) among others, were former members of NAC under the UPA Government.

 

It is worthwhile to note that NAC was responsible for drafting some of the key bills passed by the UPA Governments viz., Right to Information Act, Right to Education Act, Employee Guarantee Act, Food Security Bill etc. I am of the opinion that the creation of SAC by involving noted and eminent local Academicians, Scholars, Social Activists, Scientists, Economists, Lawyers etc. can advise the Chief Minister and his cabinet on variegated issues endemic to our state, giving support for legislative business and helping the state formulate effective policies. This is extremely important because by engaging experts in policy-making, a rational, decisive and effective policy can be framed based on facts and figures with reference to local context. The need for SAC is pertinent and more so, because the present electoral practice in the state is corrupted. Many eminent personalities who would do a terrific job if given such platform in policy-making are not carrier politicians but citizen statements. Perhaps these upright statesmen distance themselves from being smeared by such corrupt electoral practices, hence never run for office. In a corrupt society, illegal practices become the touchstone to accomplish legal things. It is a known fact that most elected members are either from the political classes or retired Govt. officers, among others, who are prowling thieves, pillaging our wealth, maneuvering public funds and stacking up on untold fortunes; their luxury and flamboyance are the very personification of greed and knavery, and yet they continue to prey on the uninformed citizens by making wily attempts with their illegally accumulated wealth. Despite this fact, it is detestable to see how the corrupt society still holds them at the pinnacle of the social ladder in contravention with our ethos.

 

Though clean election campaign is gaining momentum, until such a time when it becomes the coup de grace for corruption and luminaries are elected to run the state, errant politicians will continue to vex us without any ethical qualms. These corrupt politicians ratcheting up their illusory rhetoric with their oratory prowess to beguile the uninformed citizens must be voted out in the upcoming 2018 State Assembly Election. We need a mechanism to curb the menace of corruption and develop strategies for effective policy-making and implementation. The zenithal corruption and slow-paced developmental works have languished the state to an almost suspended animation. Though no system is perfect, perhaps the creation of SAC could be a guardian angel for Nagaland.

The writer can be reached
at kehie10@gmail.com

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