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CPS appointment matter: Hearing adjourned for Oct 3 by the HP High court

Shimla, Sept 18

In a legal development, the petition challenging the appointment of Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) in Himachal Pradesh has been adjourned for a hearing till October 3. Senior advocate Rajnish Maniktala disclosed that the court has decided to split the CPS appointment-related petitions and applications. In case of the latest petitions pertaining to appointment of CPS during the current government regime, the court has given one week to file reply. The division bench, comprising Chief Justice MSRS Ramchandra Rao and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel, has scheduled the next hearing for October 3, he stated.

Alongwith the earlier petition which was filed since 2016, has been separated and the amendment requested in the same has been allowed, added Advocate Maniktala. In the same a time of four weeks has been given, he added.

The controversy over CPS appointments in Himachal Pradesh initially arose in 2016 when a NGO, PERGO challenged these appointment done during the tenure of the previous BJP led State government. Notably, during the course of the hearing, the state government changed hands in the winter of 2022, with the Congress party, led by CM Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, assuming power and appointing a Deputy Chief Minister and Chief Parliamentary Secretaries. Consequently, the new government is also named as a party in the ongoing petition and for same an amendment was requested by PERGO through the court.

In the matter, a Mandi resident Kalpana Devi and Una MLA Satpal Satti, along with 11 others, lodged separate petitions contesting the appointments of the Deputy Chief Minister and six CPS. The Congress MLAs whose appointment got challenged include Dy CM Mukesh Agnihotri, CPS Sanjay Awasthi from the 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.

Also read: HP high court issues notice to state in matter of appointment of 6 CPS

It has been alleged in all the petitions that such appointments were made in Punjab also, which were challenged before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court had declared these appointments unconstitutional.

In 2005 court the High Court had cancelled the appointments of CPS

It’s worth noting that in 2005, the High Court had invalidated CPS appointments, deeming them unconstitutional. Following this, the Himachal Government enacted the Parliamentary Secretary Act in 2006.

Also, the Supreme Court declared the Assam Parliamentary Secretaries Act 2004 unconstitutional in the case of Bimolangshu Rai vs. Government of Assam on July 26, 2017. Similarly, in 2018, the Manipur Government amended the Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salary and Allowances, and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2012, only to have the Supreme Court rule it unconstitutional in the case of Government of Manipur vs. Suraja Kumar Okram in 2021.

Satyapal Jain, the BJP counsel representing this case, in a media statement has stated that Article 164 of the Constitution restricts the number of cabinet ministers in any state to not exceed 15 percent. Despite this, the Himachal government appointed six CPS in addition to cabinet ministers. He cited the High Court’s awareness of the Supreme Court’s decision and expressed hope that these appointments would be revoked.


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