SHILLONG: Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad has sought the Election Commission's views on the disqualification of 17 state legislators who resigned as Parliamentary Secretaries after an adverse High Court verdict, official sources said on Monday.
A Raj Bhavan communique said Prasad referred the matter to the Election Commission, as required under Article 192 (2) of the Constitution, on November 16 after the Meghalaya High Court held as invalid the state law providing for the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.
The court, on November 9, left it to the Governor to determine if those who held the post should be disqualified from the assembly or not.
The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Ved Prakash Vaish came on a public interest litigation by state resident Madal Sumer, challenging the "extraconstitutional and illegal" appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.
Following the court's verdict, Sumer submitted a representation to Governor Prasad for the disqualification of the legislators named in the PIL, citing that "they are no longer legislators for holding the office of profit".
Sumer urged the Governor to exercise his powers under Article 192 and to take a decision on the disqualification.
However, 10 of the 17 legislators who quit as Parliamentary Secretaries following the High Court verdict, have said that there is no ground for their disqualification as MLAs.
Sujit Dey, counsel for the 10 legislators, said the issue of disqualification has become "infructuous" since the post of Parliamentary Secretary itself has ceased to exist, and all Parliamentary Secretaries had immediately resigned after the High Court verdict.
Hours after the November 9 verdict, these 17 Parliamentary Secretaries quit their posts.
On March 12, 2013, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had administered oath of office to 18 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries to assist the 12 Ministers after the Congress retained power in assembly elections.
Independent legislator Lamboklang Mylliem resigned from the post on March 29 last year, citing legal grounds.
Parliamentary Secretaries Celestine Lyngdoh and Comingone Ymbon were subsequently made Cabinet Ministers.
Elections to the 60-member assembly are scheduled for February-March 2018.