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SC declares Assam law on appointment of parliamentary secretaries unconstitutional

The ruling will not have any bearing on the present Assam government as it has no parliamentary secretary.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 09:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, new Delhi
Parliamentary secretaries,Assam,Tarun Gogoi
Supreme Court strikes down an Assam act on appointment of parliamentary secretaries (HT PHoto )

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held unconstitutional a law enacted by Assam government in 2004 that allowed appointment of parliamentary secretaries enjoying the rank of minister of state.

An SC bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar, Justice RK Agrawal and Justice AM Sapre held that the legislature of Assam lacked the competence to create the post of parliamentary secretaries.

The ruling will not have any bearing on the present BJP government in Assam as it has not appointed any parliamentary secretary so far.

But it’s likely to affect, among others, neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland which have 26 parliamentary secretaries, which is more than 43% of the total strength of the 60-member legislative assemblies of the two states.

Striking down Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004, the court said, “Article 194 does not expressly authorise the state legislature to create offices such as the one in question.”

As per the Act parliamentary secretary was given the rank and status of a minister of state and exercised such powers, functions and duties as were assigned by the chief minister.

As a consequence, in 2005 the then Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam appointed eight parliamentary secretaries. These appointments were challenged on the ground that it would amount to a violation of the constitutionally prescribed upper limit of 15% on the total number of council of ministers.

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 09:42 IST