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Appointment of Hooda challenged
S. S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 2
The Supreme Court today admitted a petition challenging the appointment of Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda as Haryana Chief Minister on the ground that he was not a member of the Vidhan Sabha and there was no provision under Article 164(4) of the Constitution allowing appointment of a non-MLA as Chief Minister.

A Bench of Chief Justice, Mr R.C. Lahoti, Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan and Mr Justice G. P. Mathur, while admitting a public interest litigation (PIL) by a lawyers' body, issued notices to the Centre, Haryana Government and Mr Hooda, directing them to submit their replies.

The PIL by a Bangalore-based lawyers' body Adhivakata Parishad and 13 of its members, including former Supreme Court Bar Association President M. N. Krishnamani, has sought correct interpretation of Article 75(5) pertaining to the appointment of a non- MP as Minister and Article 164(4) which deals with the appointment of a non-MLA as Minister.

It also sought that Mr Hooda's appointment be declared as "invalid" for reasons that he was not a member of the State Assembly.

Senior advocate and former Bihar Governor Rama Jois, who is also an ex-judge of the Karnataka High Court, while appearing for the petitioner, said Articles 75(5) and 164(4) dealt with the appointment of a non-Legislator person as Minister in the Union Council of Ministers and in the State Ministries, respectively, but not with his or her appointment as Prime Minister and Chief Minister.

Citing the Supreme Court's ruling on the scope of the two Articles given in the cases of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister T.N. Singh (1971) and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda (1996) when their appointments were challenged on the same ground, Mr Jois said the apex court had laid down that under these Articles if a Minister failed to get himself elected to legislature in a period of six months, he would cease to be a Minister.

Elaborating further, he said under Article 74 and 163 of the Constitution, the positions of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers had been clearly defined that they would head the Council of Ministers in the Centre and States, respectively.

If Prime Minister and Chief Ministers were "more than equal" in the Council of Ministers, then the provisions of Articles 75(5) and 164(4) would not apply to them as they only deal with the appointment of non-Legislator person as a Minister, he contended.
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