Ex-Speaker’s plea in SC: No. of ministers in MP exceeds Constitutional provision, must be reduced

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday (July 22) issued notice to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his government, following a plea challenging the appointment of 28 ministers in the cabinet by the BJP government in the state.

The state Assembly’s former Speaker, N P Prajapati’s objection in the plea is that the appointments violated the ceiling on the maximum number of ministers fixed under the Constitution.

The notice was issued by the bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Vivek Tankha and advocates Varun Tankha and Sumeer Sodhi appeared for petitioner. The appeal says that the appointment of 28 ministers in the Madhya Pradesh cabinet was in violation of Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution.

According to the petitioner, the appointment of 28 ministers in the MP Government was clearly violative of Article 164 (1A). With the appointment of 28 ministers, the total strength of the council of ministers including the Chief Minister is now 34.

The plea pointed out : However, according to the Constitution, the total strength of council of ministers including the Chief Minister cannot go beyond 15 per cent of the total number of members in the state legislative assembly. Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution states that the total number of ministers, including the Chief Minister in the council of ministers in a State shall not exceed fifteen per cent of the total number of members of the legislative assembly of that State.

According to the plea, as per the calculation, considering only 206 members are the members of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly at present, the respondents could not have appointed more than 30.9 or 31 members as the council of ministers.

The petitioner has, therefore, prayed for a direction declaring that total number of members of the legislative assembly be interpreted and read as members present and sitting forming the seat of the house. This is in the context of Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution. It has also been prayed that strength of the council of ministers be brought in conformity with the maximum cap of 15 per cent as given in Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution and a direction be issued to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the same.

The respondents in the petition are the Governor, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the MP Government.

– India Legal Bureau

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