HC to hear PIL on Parliamentary Secretaries
Panaji, Aug 13 (UNI) The Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court will hear on August 14 a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Adv Aires Rodrigues challenging the appointment of six politicians in different posts with cabinet status as unconstitutional and a drain on the exchequer.
Nilkanth Harlankar, Victoria Fernandes and Francisco Silveira (Legislators), were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries with Cabinet status. Economic Development Corporation Chairman Agnelo Fernandes, Deputy Chairman of Goa Planning Board Wilfred De Souza and Commissioner of NRI affairs Eduardo Faleiro were also accorded cabinet rank.
A bench comprising Justices R M S Khandeparkar and R S Mohite has already issued notices into the matter and asked the government to explain the functions and responsibilities of the Parliamentary Secretaries.
In his petition, Adv Rodrigues submitted that the appointments were made in flagrant violation of the Constitution of India.
He stated that the very purpose of the 91st Amendment of the Constitution, which restricts Cabinet size, was to prevent the installation of jumbo cabinets and the resultant drain on the public exchequer.
The Goa government in its affidavit has stated that the petitioner filed the petition for his own political interests and during the recent assembly elections, had vigorously campaigned for the BJP by addressing rallies and called upon the people to get the party back into power by defeating the Congress.
It has been also stated that during the tenure of the BJP from 2002-2005, Vinay Tendulkar was appointed Parliamentary Secretary while Agnelo Fernandes was appointed the same in June 2005.
Placing reliance on a study report on Parliamentary Secretaries, the government has further stated that appointments to the post by the government is a long standing convention and this prevails in the UK, Canada, Australia also.
In his rejoinder to the government's affidavit, Adv Rodrigues in his affidavit stated that as a social activist for almost three decades, he has been espousing public causes, leading public agitations and filing PILs, making enormous sacrifices regardless of threats to his life.
Adv Rodrigues also contended that he is not a member of any political party and that having noticed the rampant corruption prevailing in the state, he was convinced that the BJP party was the best option and to that effect, he did campaign for it during the recent assembly elections.
He further stated that he always spoke up and agitated against any wrongdoings whenever committed by the BJP.