Petition in HC challenges Raghav Chadha's appointment by Punjab government; AAP defends move

Petitioner Jagmohan Singh Bhatti contended that the appointment amounts to forming 'a parallel government within the government' which was not permissible.

Published: 12th July 2022 10:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2022 10:26 PM   |  A+A-

AAP leader Raghav Chadha

AAP leader Raghav Chadha (Photo | PTI)


CHANDIGARH: A petition was filed on Tuesday in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the appointment of AAP MP Raghav Chadha as the chairman of a temporary advisory committee by the Punjab government.

Petitioner Jagmohan Singh Bhatti contended that the appointment amounts to forming "a parallel government within the government" which was not permissible.

The AAP government's move to appoint Chadha on Monday had evoked a sharp reaction from the opposition parties.

Chadha, who is a chartered accountant by profession, is expected to play an essential role in financial planning and making Punjab a debt-free state, an official spokesperson of the chief minister's office had said.

Bhatti, who is a lawyer, challenged the appointment of Chadha on various grounds.

The matter is yet to be listed before the court.

In his petition, Bhatti contended that the chief secretary had no such power to issue a notification regarding the temporary advisory committee.

Its "bare reading shows that the chief minister is of the view that a body (temporary in nature) is required to tender advice to the Government of Punjab on matters of public importance (not specified)", said the petitioner.

"An additional burden on the State Public Exchequer by way of providing the staff and infrastructure has been created and the funds meant for the development of the State of Punjab cannot be diverted under such camouflage," the petitioner submitted.

Bhatti claimed, "a minister rank has been conferred on the alleged temporary and ad hoc committee headed with its chairman Raghav Chadha to advise the government of Punjab on the matters of public importance pertaining to the Public Administration with all facilities."

The petitioner submitted that the ministerial rank "amounts to a berth in the state Cabinet which is not permissible constitutionally and the same is illegal and arbitrary as it has been done at the instance of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal."

Notably, after Chadha was appointed as the chairman of the advisory committee, the opposition parties targeted the AAP-led government, accusing Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann of "reaffirming his rubber stamp status and making Chadha as de facto CM".

The AAP on Tuesday defended the appointment of its Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha as the chairman of an advisory body set up by the Punjab government and said people of the state will be benefitted by it.

The party asserted that it was well within the powers of the Punjab government to set up the panel and sought to counter the opposition charge, contending that an advisory body can not become higher in authority than the chief minister forming it using his powers.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab appointed Chadha as the chairman of a temporary advisory committee on Monday, evoking sharp reactions from the opposition parties.

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring slammed the AAP government, accusing Chief Minister BHagwant Mann of ceding too much power to Chadha through the committee.

Appointing Chadha as chairman of the advisory panel is tantamount to making him the chief minister of Punjab, Warring charged.

"It's an advisory body, temporary body. And, the biggest thing about it is that there is no provision for paying even a single rupee (to the chairman and members of the panel)," AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said when asked for the party's reaction on the issue.

He said Chadha has been appointed as the chairman of the advisory body so that "small ambiguity" in policy matters can be done away with as he has the "first hand knowledge" of the Arvind Kejriwal model of governance in Delhi.

"People of Punjab will benefitted by the panel's advices," he added.

The Punjab government had notified the advisory committee a few days ago to much scepticism of the opposition parties, which questioned its legality.

Bharadwaj said it was well within the powers of the Punjab government to set up the advisory panel.

"The government can form any advisory body for itself. Ministers, chief ministers keep advisors and consultants," he said.

He said Punjab chief minister has set up the advisory body, using his powers.

"If I have set up a body using my powers and delegated some of my powers to it, it can not become higher than me," he added.


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