Aires SC challenging govt appointments

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Panaji, Sep 19 (UNI) Social activist advocate Aires Rodrigues today filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking transfer of his Public Interest Litigation challenging the appointments of five politicians with Cabinet status by Digambar Kamat government in Goa.

The Petition is expected to come up for hearing next week.

It might be recalled that the government had appointed Mr Nilkanth Halarnkar (MLA-NCP) and Mr Francisco Silveira (MLA-Congress) as parliamentary secretaries besides Mr Agnelo Fernandes (Congress MLA) as chairman of Economic Development Corporation, Dr.Wilfred De Souza (NCP President) as Deputy Chairman of Goa Planning Board and former union minister Mr Eduardo Faleiro as Commissioner of NRI affairs -- all with the cabinet rank.

The appointment of Mrs Victoria Fernandes as Parliamentary Secretary, which was also challenged, has since been revoked.

The petition filed under Article 139-A (1) of the Constitution of India seeks transfer of the PIL filed by Rodrigues pending in the Panaji bench of Bombay High Court for hearing along with a similar Transfer Case filed against the State of Assam on appointment of parliamentary secretaries pending before the Supreme Court, as both the cases involved the same questions of law and of general public importance.

Mr Rodrigues has prayed that his PIL pending before the High Court of Bombay at Panaji be transferred, heard and be disposed of by the Supreme Court.

In the PIL, he had contended that the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and conferment of rank/status of a Cabinet Minister to others was a fraud on the Constitution of India and in violation of the 91st Amendment which was meant to restrict the size of the Cabinet to prevent jumbo size cabinets with a huge financial burden to the State Exchequer.

It may be recalled that the arguments on the PIL were heard by the High Court of Bombay at Goa comprising Justice RMS Khandeparkar and Justice RS Mohite on August 22 and the matter was reserved for orders.

However on August 24, the Court did not pass any orders but adjourned the matter stating that it would not be appropriate to deal with the matter as a similar case relating to the validity of the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries and conferment of status of Cabinet Ministers in the State of Assam was pending before the Supreme Court.

On September 11, the High Court bench comprising Justice R S Mohite and Justice N A Britto granted liberty to Rodrigues to move a transfer petition before the Supreme Court so that his PIL could be heard along with the Assam petition, which also challenges the appointment of parliamentary secretaries.

In 2005, the Himachal Pradesh High Court set aside the appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries and the State has no parliamentary secretaries now.


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