The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Debate over CM who is not MLA

New Delhi, May 2: The Supreme Court today issued notices to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Centre and Haryana on a petition challenging the appointment of a person ' in this case Hooda ' as chief minister without becoming an MLA.

The question has raised a ticklish constitutional issue as there are precedents of individuals being appointed chief ministers without becoming MLAs and even a Prime Minister (H.D. Deve Gowda in 1996) who was not an MP.

The Constitution stipulates that within six months such a person has to get elected.

'However, it is only an interpretation,' said the petitioner NGO, Adhivakta Parishad, which challenged the swearing-in of Hooda, who is not an MLA.

The petitioner contended that it was the 'spirit' of the Constitution and democracy which should take primacy over a mere 'technical interpretation' and stated that an individual should first be elected as MLA before being sworn in as chief minister.

The petition argued that by the same logic one would have to be elected an MP first before being sworn in as Prime Minister. It contended that the appointment of Hooda was 'unconstitutional'.

At this, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justices A.R. Lakshmanan and G.P. Mathur issued the notices.

The petitioner's counsel, Rama Jois, a former governor of Jharkhand and former judge of Karnataka High Court, argued that under Articles 75(5) and 164(4) of the Constitution, 'the word minister is used to include the word chief minister or Prime Minister' and that the person so appointed should be an MLA (in the case of chief minister) or MP (in the case of Prime Minister).

Jois argued that if a non-member of an Assembly or Parliament is appointed chief minister or Prime Minister and fails to be elected within the stipulated six months, the entire cabinet 'goes with him' which is not the 'spirit' of the Constitution.

He said such a situation was not envisaged by the Constitution and hence 'a person should not be appointed chief minister or Prime Minister unless he was an elected member of the House'.

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