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Meghalaya Governor to decide on fate of 17 MLAs

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mukul sangma

Shillong, Nov 14: All eyes are on the Raj Bhavan that is to take a call on whether 17 Meghalaya legislators who quit as Parliamentary Secretaries after the High Court last week struck down a state law providing for such appointments can be disqualified as members of the state Assembly.

A Raj Bhavan official said that Governor Ganga Prasad is waiting for the reference of the state government and the Assembly Speaker on the court verdict on the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.

“The Governor is yet to receive a reference from the government and Assembly Speaker on the court verdict. Once we receive the communication from them, the Governor’s office will seek the suggestion of the Election Commission on the matter,” a Raj Bhavan official told IANS on Tuesday.

On November 9, the Meghalaya High Court had held invalid the state law providing for appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries, but left it to the Governor to determine if those who held the post should be disqualified from the Assembly.

The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Ved Prakash Vaish came on a PIL filed by state resident Madal Sumer, challenging the “extra constitutional and illegal” appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in the state.

According to Article 192 of the Constitution, if any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) of Article 191, the question will be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final.

Leaving it open to the Governor to decide on the issue of disqualification of Parliamentary Secretaries as Assembly members, the bench had noted: “It is hardly a matter of any doubt that when a question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of the state has become subject to any of disqualifications mentioned in Article 191(1), the question has to be referred for the decision of Governor; and the decision of the Governor in this regard, on the basis of the opinion of Election Commission, is final.”

However, 10 of the 17 legislators who quit as Parliamentary Secretaries following the High Court verdict have said there is no ground for their disqualification as members of the Assembly.

Sujit Dey, counsel for the 10 legislators, said that the issue of disqualification becomes “infructuous” since the post of Parliamentary Secretary itself has ceased to exist, and out of respect for the court verdict, all Parliamentary Secretaries had immediately resigned.

Hours after the November 9 verdict, 17 Parliamentary Secretaries quit their post.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who accepted their resignation, defended their appointment and the law.

“This law has been enacted based on this mandate of the provisions of the Constitution by which we can prevent the members of the august house from getting disqualified for holding an office of profit wherein law says such office will be deemed as not as office of profit,” Sangma said.

However, Madal Sumer submitted a representation to Governor Prasad on Monday evening seeking the disqualification of the legislators named in the PIL, citing that “they are no longer legislators for holding office of profit”.

Sumer urged the Governor, the highest constitutional authority of the state, to exercise his power under Article 192 of the Constitution and to take a decision on the issue of disqualification

On July 26, the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional a law enacted by Assam in 2004 that allowed the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in the rank of Minister of State.

On March 12, 2013, Chief Minister Sangma had administered the oath of office to 18 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries to assist 12 Ministers after the Congress retained power following the Assembly elections.

However, 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.

Election to the 60-member Assembly is scheduled to be held in February-March 2018.

IANS

Election

Congress goes to Election Commission with E-tendering scam in MP

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VIVEK TANKHA

New Delhi, Sep 25 : The Congress on Tuesday alleged an e-tender scam worth Rs 30,000 crore in last four years in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and approached the Election Commission raising concern that it could impact the assembly elections in the state.

In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat, Congress leader Vivek Tankha alleged the people involved in the e-tender scam are close to state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the ruling BJP.

In his letter to Rawat, Tankha said, “It is billed as the e-tender scam and involves large-scale manipulation of the online procurement platform of the Madhya Pradesh government to allegedly favour a select few private companies in connivance with officers.”

“E-tenders of the estimated value of more than Rs 30,000 crore had been manipulated during the last four years in the state,” it said.

“The officers who purportedly manipulated the tendering process are perceived to be very close to the ruling party and especially to the Chief Minister,” it said.

In his letter, the Congress leader said that the matter came to light after a damning report was submitted by the Principal Secretary, Manish Rastogi MD of the MP State Electronics Development Corporation exposing the rot on May 5 this year.

“Even Chief Secretary Basant Pratap Singh was shocked by the findings of the report,” it said, adding that he ordered the economic offences wing to file an FIR against the delinquents inter alia for criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, fabrication under the Indian Penal Code and for commission of cyber crimes including hacking and manipulation of electronic records under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The Congress leader also alleged that instead of promptly acting on the directions of the Chief Secretary, the state government “slept over the said directions for one month”.

“No effort to register a case or to take action for recovery of digital equipment, including seizing of servers, computers, hard disks, laptops, pen drives etc. was either initiated or attempted, offering ample time to the delinquents to tamper with/destroy evidence,” it said.

The Congress said a preliminary enquiry was ordered only on June 21 by the EOW of the state police.

The Congress also raised the question as to why the Managing Director who blew the lid off the scam was transferred. “Why has there been no punitive action against the beneficiary companies despite an internal inquiry pointing out the names of bidders who emerged as the lowest bidder by compromising e-procurement infrastructure?” it asked.

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Bengal town tension: ABVP burns Mamata’s effigy

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West Bengal School Violence

Kolkata, Sep 25 : The BJP’s students wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on Tuesday torched an effigy of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and demanded resignation of state education minister in protest against the killing of two students in Islampur last week allegedly in police firing.

It also demanded a CBI probe into the killings.

ABVP activists assembled outside Swami Vivekananda’s ancestral home in north Kolkata’s Simla street and marched to the Dharamtolla crossing, where they were stopped by the police.

Some ABVP workers were allegedly injured when the police tried to disperse the agitators.

The police forcibly dispersed the crowd.

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Politics

Tejashwi mocks Sushil Modi over crime in Bihar

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Tejashwi Yadav

Patna, Sep 25: Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday assailed Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi for remarking that criminals should keep off crime during ‘pitri-paksh’ when Hindus pay homage to ancestors through food offerings in Gaya, a holy town in the state.

“Sushil Modi is shamelessly begging before criminals not to commit any crime in the next 15 days. Does he mean that later in the festive season they are free to do whatever they would like to do?” asked Tejashwi, RJD leader and former Deputy Chief Minister.

Two days ago Sushil Modi, who is also a senior BJP leader, appealed to criminals to spare the ‘pitri-paksh’ period from crime. “Other days, you (criminals) do something or the other, but keep away from such activity during the holy period,” he said.

A day after former Mayor of Muzaffarpur and his driver were shot dead by assailants using AK-47, Tejashwi attacked the state government saying AK-47 has become a weapon of choice for criminals in Bihar.

IANS

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