Himachal HC begins hearing on petition challenging appointment of chief parliamentary secretaries

Shimla : Himachal Pradesh high court on Monday began a day-to-day hearing of a petition challenging the appointments of chief parliamentary secretaries.
The division bench comprising justice Vivek Singh Thakur and justice BC Negi heard the arguments on the petition for more than three hours. Advocate general Anup Rattan represented the chief parliamentary secretaries, while former advocate general Shrawan Dogra also represented the government.

Rattan pleaded to the court that it should give more time for hiring a senior Supreme Court lawyer.

While senior advocate from Supreme Court Maninder Singh represented Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) petitioners, 12 BJP MLAs, including Una legislator Satpal Satti, have challenged the appointment of the chief parliamentary secretary.

The court further prohibited chief parliamentary secretaries from availing the facilities of ministers and functioning like ministers. Sanjay Awasthi from Arki assembly constituency, Sundar Singh from Kullu, Ram Kumar from Doon, Mohan Lal Brakta from Rohru, Ashish Butail from Palampur and Kishori Lal from Baijnath have been challenged. Further, the arguments in the petition will continue on Tuesday and lawyers of the secretaries will be present individually.

A division bench comprising justice Vivek Thakur and justice Sandeep Sharma on January 4 had passed an interim order debarring the six chief parliamentary secretaries appointed by chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu from availing the facilities given to cabinet rank minister.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had maintained in the petition that there is no provision for the post of chief parliamentary secretaries in the Constitution and under Article 164 of the Constitution of India, not more than 15% of the cabinet can be formed in the state, which is 12 in Himachal, but after the appointment of chief parliamentary secretaries, this number reaches 18. In a bid to buy time, the Congress government filed the transfer petition in the Supreme Court under Article 139A of the Constitution. It has requested that the petition of Kalpana Devi vs Government of Himachal Pradesh and others, Satpal Singh Satti vs Government of Himachal and others, and NGO People for Responsible Governance vs state government and others, be transferred to the apex court. However, the request was turned down.