The parliamentary secretaries issue in Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi Government has resonated till Nagaland. In March 2015, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appointed 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries for “smooth functioning” of the government.
Following several petitions to the President seeking disqualification of the MLAs, the state assembly passed a bill amending the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997. The bill passed with retrospective effect was an attempt to save the MLAs from disqualification.
But President Pranab Mukherjee has refused to give assent to the Bill passed by the Delhi assembly in June 2015 shielding these MLAs, putting AAP in a precarious situation.
Under the Constitution, elected representatives stand to be disqualified if they hold an office of profit meaning they are not entitled to emoluments, perks or facilities. AAP argues that the post of parliamentary secretary is not an office of profit simply because the MLAs do not receive any financial benefit and are not entitled to any perks. Petitioner Kashyap Patel says there is no merit to AAP’s argument, noting, “For constituting office of profit, it is not necessary that pecuniary benefit should be derived from it.”
Secondly, the Constitution has set a limit for the total number of cabinet ministers including the Chief Minister. In the case of Delhi, the cabinet has to be within 10 per cent of the total number of MLAs in the state or seven ministers. This is to avoid burdening the state exchequer. The Delhi Cabinet, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, has seven members. But when the 21 parliamentary secretaries are included, this number goes up to 28, far exceeding the Constitutional mandate.
“I want to ask Modiji, is he not allowing the Delhi government to function because he is unable to digest defeat in Delhi? Why is he only after disqualifying Delhi’s parliamentary secretaries? Why not Haryana, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and others who have parliament secretaries?” he alleged.
Nagaland Parliamentary secretaries get official residences, police escorts, are alloted different departments etc.