Appointment of parl secys violates rules

SHILLONG: Equating the rank of parliamentary secretaries to that of a minister as per Meghalaya Legislative Assembly rules, may haunt the State government as it will come into conflict with the amendment Act of downsizing the ministry to just 12. Currently, with 18 parliamentary secretaries being equated with ministers and 12 actual ministers, the strength will be a total of 30 whereas small states like Meghalaya can have only 12 ministers. A legal expert said on Sunday that with some decisions of the government on certain issues coming under judicial scrutiny, the issue of appointment of parliamentary secretaries can cause problem for the government if it is challenged in the Court. Procedure and Conduct of Business in Meghalaya Legislative Assembly under the title Definitions (h) says “Minister means a member of the council of ministers, a Minister of State, a Deputy Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary”. However, the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment Act) 2003, says that “the total number of ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the council of ministers in a state shall not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of the State, provided that the number of ministers including the Chief Minister in a state shall not be less than twelve”. The 18 parliamentary secretaries are equated with the ministers of state or deputy ministers availing the same  perks and facilities provided to the ministers of state in Meghalaya.
They are Comingone Ymbon (Mining & Geology, Soil & Water Conservation), Samuel M. Sangma (Home Guards & Civil Defense, Housing), Limison D. Sangma (Transport, Commerce & Industries), Winnerson D. Sangma (Home Police and Education), Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem (Tourism, Arts & Culture), Cherak W. Momin (Public Works Department Roads), Brigady Marak (Agriculture, Public Works Department Building), Sengnam Marak (Health & Family Welfare, Fisheries), Lamboklang Mylliem (Taxation), Rophul S Marak (Community & Rural Development, Information & Public Relations), Robinus Syngkon (Horticulture, Legal Metrology), Michael T. Sangma (Excise), Justine Dkhar (Education, Social Welfare), Ashahel D. Shira (Water Resources), Stephanson Mukhim (Sports & Youth Affairs, Co-operation), Celestine Lyngdoh (Agriculture, Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs), Noverfield R. Marak (Public Health Engineering, Urban Affairs) and Marthon Sangma (Forest & Environment, Information Technology).
When contacted on Sunday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong said that if necessary, the State government can amend the existing rules related to the parliamentary secretaries.
“We can also refer the matter to the Law department for its views,” the Minister said.
Chairman of Hynniewtrep Peoples’ Social Organisation (HPSO), Kyrshan War, the pioneer in raising the issue through a PIL a few years back said on Sunday that he would continue to pursue the matter.
He said that the parliamentary secretaries are getting all the facilities like that of the ministers and added that downsizing the ministry was just for namesake.
According to War, after he filed the PIL in the then Shillong Bench of the Gauhati High Court, his lawyer had informed him that the Judge wanted to wait for the verdict from the Supreme Court, as a similar petition was filed by an individual from Himachal Pradesh in the Supreme Court.
“I am yet to get any feedback regarding this,” War said, adding that he would wait for the verdict before taking next steps.
War said he had filed the PIL in an attempt to stop wasteful expenditure in the appointment of parliamentary secretaries equivalent to ministers after the downsizing of the ministry.
There was a time when Meghalaya had over 40 ministers in the 60 member House, but even after downsizing, the dropped ministers were accommodated as parliamentary secretaries thereby defeating the very purpose of downsizing the ministry.
War had earlier said that the intention of downsizing the ministry was to minimize the expenditure so that the same money can go for development works, but the reality has become different as there was large scale appointment of parliamentary secretaries.

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