In a setback to the Arvind Kejriwal government, the Delhi High Court on Thursday quashed the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries after the AAP government conceded that the Lt Governor’s approval was not taken in the matter.
Following the submission of the government and in light of its recent judgement giving primacy to the LG in administrative control of the capital, a bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal quashed the appointments.
The AAP government told the court that the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries was made without approval of the Lieutenant Governor. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the AAP government’s decision to appoint 21 party legislators as parliamentary secretaries.
Earlier, the government had defended its decision to appoint the party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, saying the move does not amount to creation of a “public office”.
After coming to power in February 2015, the Arvind Kejriwal government appointed the parliamentary secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning but made it clear that they won’t receive any remuneration or perk of any kind from the government, that is, no burden on the exchequer.
The order, however, permitted them to use government transport for official purposes and earmarked space in the ministers’ offices to help them in the official work.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain for the Centre had said that even if you are using a driver, it is an office of profit. NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha had sought scrapping of the appointments as these were “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction”.
The PIL said the Chief Minister had “no power, jurisdiction or authority” to administer the oath of office to parliamentary secretaries.