SC directs HC to decide parliamentary secretaries issue in Goa

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) The Supreme Court today directed the Bombay High Court at Panaji to dispose of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by social activist and advocate Aires Rodrigues challenging the appointment of five politicians to the state cabinet by the Digambar Kamat government.

After hearing the transfer petition filed by Mr Rodrigues seeking transfer of his PIL to the Supreme Court, a division bench comprising Justices S H Kapadia and B Sudarshan Reddy observed that the ends of justice would be met if the matter was heard and decided by the Bombay High Court bench in Goa.

The government had appointed Mr Nilkanth Halarnkar (MLA-NCP) and Mr Francisco Silveira (MLA-Congress) as Parliamentary Secretaries besides appointing Mr Agnelo Fernandes (Congress MLA) as Chairman of Economic Development Corporation, Dr Wilfred De Souza (NCP President) as Deputy Chairman of the Goa Planning Board and former Union Minister Mr Eduardo Faleiro as Commissioner of NRI affairs - all with cabinet rank.

The appointment of Mrs Victoria Fernandes as Parliamentary Secretary, which was also challenged, has since been revoked.

The arguments on the PIL were heard by a High Court bench comprising Justices R M S Khandeparkar and R S Mohite on August 22 and the matter was reserved for orders.

The HC, however, did not pass any orders on August 24 but adjourned the matter by stating that it would not be appropriate to deal with the issue as a similar case relating to the validity of the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries and conferment of status of cabinet ministers in Assam was pending before the apex court.

Later on September 11, a High Court bench comprising Justices R S Mohite and N A Britto granted liberty to Mr Rodrigues to move a transfer petition before the Supreme Court so that his PIL could be heard along with the petition on Assam.

In his PIL, Mr Rodrigues contended that the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries and conferment of rank or status of a cabinet minister on others was a fraud on the Constitution of India.

He also argued that the appointments were in violation of the 91st amendment which was meant to prevent the formation of jumbo size cabinets which were a huge financial burden on the state exchequer.

He stated that in 2005 the Himachal Pradesh High Court had suspended the appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries.

UNI

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