HC seeks Delhi’s response to PIL on 21 parliamentary secretaries

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has again sought responses from the Delhi government, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung on a plea against the move to appoint 21 AAP legislators as parliamentary secretaries.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath asked them to file their responses by October 7.

On May 20 also, the court had asked for the response by July 1, but none of the parties filed their replies.

The Delhi government’s counsel Raman Duggal told the high court that the 21 parliamentary secretaries were not holding offices of profit and that no facilities were given to them.

The Delhi assembly recently passed a bill to allow 21 Aam Aadmi Party legislators to continue as parliamentary secretaries, the counsel said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO ‘Rashtriya Mukti Morcha’ against the Delhi government’s move on parliamentary secretaries.

The PIL said the appointments were “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction”, adding that the chief minister had “no power, jurisdiction or authority” to administer oath of office to these parliamentary secretaries.

The petititioner urged the court to scrap the appointments.

After returning to power in February 2015, the Kejriwal government appointed the parliamentary secretaries and attached them to various government departments.

The Arvind Kejriwal government claimed this would facilitate smooth functioning of the government machinery but made it clear they won’t receive any remuneration or perks of any kind from the government – implying they would not be a burden on the exchequer.

An order issued in this regard, however, permits parliamentary secretaries to use government transport for official purposes and earmarks space for them in the ministers’ offices to help them in the official work.

Those appointed as parliamentary secretaries include Praveen Kumar (education department), Jarnail Singh (development), Charan Goel (finance), Sharad Kumar (revenue) and Rajesh Gupta (health).

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