HYDERABAD: The Telangana government has defended its action before the Hyderabad High Court contending that it has discretionary powers to accord ‘Cabinet rank’ to the persons who were appointed as advisors, special representatives of the government and others.
In this regard, the government represented by its chief secretary has filed a counter affidavit pursuant to a direction by a division bench of the Court which was dealing with a PIL case filed by Congress MP Gutha Sukhender Reddy challenging the state’s action in ‘indiscriminately’ conferring cabinet rank status to its political appointees.
The petitioner MP contended that Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution has imposed a ceiling of 15 percent of the ministers who enjoy the status of cabinet rank, on the total strength of the members of the legislative assembly. He said that conferment of cabinet rank on persons who are not ministers would amount to a flagrant violation of Article 164 (1A) and hence it is liable to be declared as unconstitutional.
The government, in its counter affidavit, informed the court that conferring the Cabinet ranks is an usual practices adopted by various governments and the erstwhile AP government had also accorded Cabinet rank status to its advisors. The aim of the government in according Cabinet status to other than Ministers was that to provide a better and effective administration to the people, it added.
It also informed the court that the appointees who were conferred Cabinet rank are experts in their respective fields and as they were neither appointed under Article 164 of the Constitution nor they are part of the Cabinet and they were also not performed oath in accordance with Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution.
The government submitted that the Cabinet ranks were accorded to give salaries and perks to the advisors and others, and urged the court to dismiss the PIL as the petitioner being a Congress leader has been intervening in many of the decisions without their being valid reasons. The present case is also one among the other petitions filed by the petitioner with a political motive, it pointed out.
Advisors to the state government R Vidyasagar Rao, AK Goel, A Ramalakshman, BV Papa Rao, KV Ramanachary, GR Reddy, special representatives to the state at New Delhi S Venugopalachary, Ramachandrudu Tejavath, KM Sahni, chairman of the Telangana Tourism Corporation Limited Pervaram Ramulu, chairman of Telangana Scheduled Castes Co-operative Development Corporation Limited Pidamarthi Ravi, vice-chairman of Telangana State Planning Board Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, chairman of Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi Erpula Balakishan and chairman of Telangana State Press Academy Allam Narayana were among the persons mentioned by the petitioner who were conferred with the cabinet rank.