Hyderabad: The Telangana government defended its action in conferring Cabinet status on its advisors, special representatives, chairmen and vice chairmen of government owned corporations and other statutory bodies, by claiming before the Hyderabad High Court that it had the necessary powers.
The state government told the court that the state government has the discretion to confer Cabinet status based on its requirements. Giving such functionaries the status of ministers is a common practice of state and central governments, the TS government argued.
S.K. Joshi, Chief Secretary of Telangana, filed an affidavit before the High Court after being directed to do so in the matter of a PIL by A. Revanth Reddy, MLA, questioning the action of the state government.
Mr Revanth Reddy contended that Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution has imposed a ceiling of 15 per cent of the total strength of Members of the Legislative Assembly on appointment of ministers, including the Chief Minister, who enjoy Cabinet rank status, and the Chief Minister has no power to accord Cabinet rank as he likes.
The state’s chief secretary Mr Joshi said in the affidavit that advisors, special representatives and chairmen and vice chairmen are not appointed as ministers by the Governor under Article 164 of the Constitution, and they are not part of the council of ministers within the meaning of the said Article, and they are not administered the oath of office and secrecy as requ-ired under Article 164(3).
He submitted that they do not carry out the duties and functions of the council of ministers and do not take part in the meetings of the council of ministers. The nature of their duties and functions are different from those performed by the council of ministers appointed under Article 164.
He brought to the notice of the court that the state of Telangana was formed on June 2, 2014 and the council of ministers is functioning from the said date.
Stating that the contention of the petitioner that there was no council of ministers on that date is incorrect, the Chief Secretary contended, “the state government may appoint at any time based on its requirements and it is not necessary that the role of the advisors would arise only when there is no assembly or when the state is under President's Rule.”
He told the court that the permitted strength of ministers of 15 per cent under Article 164(A) was not breached.
Mr Revanth Reddy has questioned the conferring of Cabinet rank on the fo-llowing: G. Vivekananda, R. Vidyasagar Rao, A.K. Goel, (advisors), A. Rama-krishna, B.V. Appa Rao, K.V. Ramanachary, G.R. Reddy (finance departme-nt); Devulapally Prabha-kar Rao, chairman, State Official Languages Com-mission; Pervaram Ram-ulu, Somarapu Satyana-rayana, Pidamarthi Ravi , and Prasanth Reddy, chairmen of government corporations; Koppula Eshwar, Chief Whip of the government; K.M. Sahni, Ramachandrudu Tejavath, and Dr S. Venu-gopalachary, special representatives to Telangana at New Delhi; Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, vice-chairman of the State Planning Board.