Chandigarh, Aug 12 (IANS) Some six months ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday set aside the appointment of 18 Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs) by the Parkash Singh Badal government.
The court ruling by a division bench of Justice S.S. Saron and Justice Ramendra Jain is a major embarrassment for the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP ruling alliance and came on two petitions filed four years ago.
The post of CPS is one step lower than a minister and ruling party legislators are appointed on these posts by various state governments to accommodate MLAs since all cannot be made ministers due to a statutory ceiling of 15 per cent on ministerial berths vis-a-vis the respective assembly strength.
The CPS appointments were made by the Badal government four years ago after it assumed power in Punjab for a second five-year term in March 2012.
The petitioners, both lawyers, contended that the appointment of CPSs by the Badal government was “unconstitutional”. They had pointed out that the state was spending lakhs of rupees of public money on paying for the salaries, perks and facilities of these CPSs.
Reacting to the court ruling, Punjab Congress President and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the order was “not unexpected as the Badal government had failed to follow proper procedure before appointing them”.
“Obviously, the Badal government tried to circumvent the constitutional and legislative procedure by appointing the CPSs without following proper procedure and hence these were expected to be scrapped,” he said in a statement.
Elections to the 117-member Punjab assembly are expected to be held in February next year.