Constitutional bench to examine issue of tainted ministers

February 20th, 2008 - 8:40 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday decided to refer to the larger constitutional bench the question of legality of a tainted person’s inclusion in the cabinet. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrsihnan, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal decided to go in for a deeper scrutiny of the matter, while asking six states to inform the court of their stands on the issue within six weeks.

The six states, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Kerala, are yet to apprise the court of their stand, while other states and the central government have filed their replies.

The bench adjourned the hearing on a public interest lawsuit filed by Delhi resident Manoj Narula beyond summer vacations in May-June.

Narula filed the petition after a number of leaders with alleged criminal antecedents were included in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.

Those against whom criminal cases are pending in various courts and were yet included in the cabinet are Mohammed Taslimuddin, M.A.A. Fatmi and Jai Prakash Yadav among others.

The apex court, which had dismissed Narula’s petition, later decided to examine the crucial issue after the petitioner came in an appeal against the court’s order.

Admitting the petition, the bench sought responses from the central and state governments.

The central government, in its affidavit justified the inclusion of tainted people in the cabinet. It said it is the prime minister’s prerogative to decide who should be made a minister and the president has no choice but to accept the prime minister’s decision in constituting the cabinet.

“Once a person is a member of parliament, he is entitled to be in the council of ministers if the prime minister so decides,” the affidavit said.

“It is respectfully submitted that the president would have no option but to appoint as prime minister the person who commands the support of the majority in the house. Equally, the prime minister has the discretion to select his council of ministers, and persons so selected are required to be appointed by the president as being part of the council of ministers,” the home ministry said in the affidavit.

“There is, at present, a coalition government which has formed the UPA and there are various parties which are part of the present government. The MPs of such parties would be required to be considered for inclusion in the council of ministers, if the parties so desire and the ultimate decision is taken by the prime minister while selecting his council of ministers.”

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