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Notices to Badal, govt on CPSs
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices to the Punjab government and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal over a public-interest litigation (PIL) seeking quashing of recent appointments of chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSs) in the state.

The civil writ petition made in public interest by Jagmohan Singh Bhatti, advocate, sought the posts held by the chief parliamentary secretaries (14 in number) be declared as illegal, unconstitutional and asserted that these were made in disregard to the 91st Amendment to the Constitution of India. The petitioner further prayed for the quashing of the appointments, arguing that the same were arbitrary and created under the undue influence of the respondents.

It also sought to restrain the Finance Department of the Punjab government not to bear the expenses of these illegal appointments and to withdraw all facilities extended to the CPSs in the interest of the state, its people and exchequer.

The petitioner also pleaded that the Union of India, Secretary of the Law Department, Ministry of Home and Justice along with the Chief Election Commission and the state government (all of them respondents) should dispense with the services of the CPSs forthwith. Also, they should be restrained to work as such.

The petitioner pleaded that despite the fact that no such post of CPS existed under the Constitution or under any statute or Act passed by the Parliament or any state legislature, the impugned appointments were made by the Punjab Chief Minister in a grossly illegal and unconstitutional manner.

Importantly, he said the matter involving the legality of appointment of CPSs was already subjudice before the high court in the case of Antr Singh Brar vs Union of India and others (civil writ petition No. 14546 of 2005).

Another interesting fact highlighted by the petition was that most of the elected MLAs of the ruling group were law graduates and some of them were even practising advocates.

The petitioner stated that the state of Punjab had 117 Assembly constituencies with elected members. As such the total strength of the ministers in the state, including the Chief Minister could not exceed 18. The petitioner further argued that with a view to circumventing the aforesaid mandatory constitutional amendment, the Punjab Chief Minister appointed three CPSs at one stage and another 11 on April 16. Already, there were 18 ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the state.

After hearing the petitioner, the Division Bench sought replies from the Punjab government, Chief Minister, chief parliamentary secretaries and other respondents on May 23,the next date of hearing.

The chief parliamentary secretaries whose appointments have been challenged are
1. Mohinder Kaur Josh, MLA
2. Sarwan Singh,MLA
3. Jagdish Rai Sahni, MLA
4. Harish Rai Dhanda, MLA (Ludhiana West)
5. Nand Lal, MLA (Balachaur)
6. Des Raj Dhugga, MLA (Gardhiwala )
7. Seetal Singh, MLA (Dharamkot)
8. Sher Singh, MLA (Jalandhar)
9. Jagdeep Singh Nakai, MLA (Khanna)
10. Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, MLA (Kartarpur)
11. Avinash Chander, MLA (Mukerian) 
12. Arunesh Kumar Shakir, MLA 
13. Sukhpal Singh Nanu, MLA (Ferozepore) 
14. Raj Khurana, MLA (Rajpura)

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