The Delhi High Court on Friday (22 January 2016) ordered the central government to file by March 31 its response on a plea challenging the AAP government’s decision to appoint 21 party legislators as parliamentary secretaries.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath granted more time after the central government sought it.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had earlier defended its decision to appoint the party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, saying the move does not amount to creation of a “public office”.
“The provision of parliamentary secretary is merely to assist the minister in connecting to the public and the rest of the assembly and ensuring a harmonious functioning,” it had said in an affidavit.
After coming to power in February 2015, the Arvind Kejriwal government appointed the parliamentary secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning but made it clear that they won’t receive any remuneration or perk of any kind from the government, that is, no burden on the exchequer.
The order, however, permitted them to use government transport for official purposes and earmarked space in the ministers’ offices to help them in the official work.
A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha had sought scrapping of the appointments as these were “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction”.
The PIL said the chief minister had “no power, jurisdiction or authority” to administer the oath of office to parliamentary secretaries.
The bench earlier refused to stay the government order saying it requires further consideration.