New Delhi : The AAP government on Wednesday defended before the Delhi High Court its decision to appoint 21 party legislators as parliamentary secretaries, saying the formation of the post does not amount to creation of a "public office".
"The provision of parliamentary secretary is merely to assist the minister in connecting to the public and the rest of the assembly and ensuring a harmonious functioning," said an affidavit filed before a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said.
After taking power in February, the Arvind Kejriwal government appointed the parliamentary secretaries, saying this would facilitate the smooth functioning but made it clear they won't receive any remuneration or perk of any kind from the government -- meaning no burden on the exchequer.
The order, however, permits them to use government transport for official purposes and has earmarked space in the ministers' offices to help them in official work.
A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha in May sought scrapping of the appointments claiming that it as "unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction".
It said the chief minister has "no power, jurisdiction or authority" to administer the oath of office to parliamentary secretaries.
Responding to the petition, the Aam Aadmi Party government in the latest affidavit said similar appointments have been made by previous governments where "apppointees had been administered oath by the the CM, and not by the LG (lt governor)".
"The creation of the post does not amount to the creation of a 'public office' as the minister-in-charge can still seek opinion from any other MLA. The post d oes not amount to a violation of (constitution's) article 239AA(4) restricting the strength of the council of ministers to 7," it added.
The bench earlier refused to stay the government order saying it requires further consideration.