Suspense on validity of govt's appointments continues

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Panaji, Feb 17 (UNI) While the uncertainty continues on induction of MGP's Sudin Dhavlikar into the cabinet continues, the suspense on the validity of appointments, of the two parliamentary secretaries and conferring of cabinet status on three others by the Digambar Kamat government will continue for at least another week as the division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa is not expected to be sitting this week.

Justice R M S Khandeparkar and Justice N A Britto had last week directed that the PIL filed by social activist Aires Rodrigues, challenging the appointments of Nilkanth Harlankar and Francisco Silveira as parliamentary secretaries and conferring of cabinet status on EDC Chairman Agnelo Fernandes, Deputy Chairman of Goa Planning Board Dr Wilfred De Souza and Commissioner of NRI affairs Eduardo Faleiro be taken up for final hearing on February 18.

Mr Rodrigues had prayed for urgency in disposing the petition as the alleged illegal appointments and acts of the government were a huge unnecessary burden on the exchequer, while the government was citing financial constraints as a reason for not appointing more nurses and class IV employees at the government hospitals to take care of the poor and needy patients.

The conferment of cabinet status on Dr De Souza, the Goa unit NCP President, who was appointed as Deputy Chairman of Goa Planning Board after his defeat in the June 2 last Assembly polls is also under the scrutiny of the High Court.

The two parliamentary secretaries who had earlier engaged the services of senior counsel S K Kakodkar have now opted for former Advocate General Vijay Nadkarni to defend them. Senior counsel Gilman Coelho Pereira is pleading for Dr De 'Souza while another former advocate General Carlos Ferreira is defending Fernandes.

Advocate V A Lawande is representing Mr Faleiro.

Advocate Rodrigues, in his petition, submitted that the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and conferment of rank or status of a Cabinet Minister to others was a fraud on the Constitution and in violation of the 91st Amendment which was meant to restrict the size of the Cabinet and to prevent jumbo sized cabinets leading to a huge financial burden to the State Exchequer.

He had also submitted that the conferment of Cabinet rank and status was also tantamount to backdoor entry for MLA's and high party functionaries for additional Cabinet berths when the Constitution had itself fixed the number of such Cabinet posts.

In 2005 the Himachal Pradesh High Court had set aside the appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries as unconstitutional.

UNI BM SR VD RK1502

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