By Our Reporter, TNT News | SHILLONG, Nov 20, 2017:
Days after the submission of a representation by a local resident Madal Sumer, seeking the disqualification of 17 state legislators who resigned as Parliamentary Secretaries, Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad has clarified that the matter has been referred to the Election Commission on Nov 16 and it is not pending with the Governor’s office as reported.
Official sources informed that the Governor has sought the Election Commission’s views on the disqualification of 17 MLAs after the Meghalaya High Court held as invalid the state law providing for the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.
According to a press communique from the Raj Bhavan, the matter was brought to the attention of the Governor on Nov 16 and on the same day, a decision was made by the governor to seek the opinion of the Election Commission of India and accordingly, the matter was referred to the EC as required under Article 192 (2) of the Constitution.
In its recent order, the High Court stated that it is up to the Governor to determine if those who held the post should be disqualified from the assembly or not while scrapping the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries Act 2005.
The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Ved Prakash Vaish came on a public interest litigation by state resident Madal Sumer, challenging the extra-constitutional and illegal appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.
Following the court’s verdict, Sumer submitted a representation to Governor Prasad for the disqualification of the legislators named in the PIL on November 13, citing that they are no longer legislators for holding the office of profit.
Sumer urged the Governor to exercise his powers under Article 192 and to take a decision on the disqualification.
However, 10 of the 17 legislators who quit as Parliamentary Secretaries following the High Court verdict, have said that there is no ground for their disqualification as MLAs.
Sujit Dey, counsel for the 10 legislators, said the issue of disqualification has become infructuous since the post of Parliamentary Secretary itself has ceased to exist, and all Parliamentary Secretaries had immediately resigned after the High Court verdict.
Hours after the November 9 verdict, these 17 Parliamentary Secretaries resigned from their posts.
On March 12, 2013, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had administered oath of office to 18 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries to assist the 12 Ministers after the Congress retained power in assembly elections.
Independent legislator Lamboklang Mylliem resigned from the post on March 29 last year, citing legal grounds.
Parliamentary Secretaries Celestine Lyngdoh and Comingone Ymbon were subsequently made Cabinet Ministers.
Elections to the 60-member assembly are scheduled for February-March 2018.
With inputs from IANS