Meghalaya High Court asks Governor to approve appointment of KHADC Executive Members

SHILLONG, Jan 28: The Meghalaya High Court on Tuesday has directed the Secretary to the Governor of Meghalaya, to place the relevant file before the Governor of the State for issuance of formal orders approving appointment of Executive Members (EM) in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC).

In its order passed here, Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, Mohammad Rafiq, said, “The petitioner (Latiplang Kharkongor) in his capacity as the Chief Executive Member (CEM), for appointment of one Deputy Chief Executive Member and four Executive Members (EM) of the Executive Committee (EC) of the KHADC, the Governor of the State of Meghalaya does not have any discretion to withhold their appointment and has no option but to notify their appointment acting on such advice.”

According to Chief Justice Rafiq, a detailed analysis of the Assam [and Meghalaya] Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, of 1951, makes it clear that the principles of the Cabinet system of the Government are ingrained in its various provisions, especially Rule 20, according to which it is the prerogative of the duly elected CEM of the Council to choose the Deputy Chief Executive Member and other Members of the Executive Committee of the District Council. In the event of such advice, the Governor has to appoint person/persons of his choice accordingly.

The High Court Chief Justice said that this provision is analogous to Article 75 of the Constitution, which vests the authority in the Prime Minister to advice the President to appoint other Ministers and Article 164 of the Constitution, which similarly empowers the Chief Minister to advice the Governor to appoint the other Ministers.

“Both these constitutional provisions do not leave any discretion with either the President or the Governor, as the case may be, as to the choice of the persons to be appointed as Ministers,” he said.

It may be mentioned that Kharkongor had filed the petition before the High Court over the delay in the approval of list of EM.

The list of EMs are Congress MDCs Ronnie V Lyngdoh and Lamphrang Blah, National People’s Party MDC, Mitchell Wankhar and People’s Democratic Party, Macdalyn Sawkmie.

Kharkongor had also sent the the name of Grace Mary Kharpuri as deputy CEM.

The list of EMs was sent on November 27.

However, the State Government has not notified the election of Kharkongor as the CEM of the KHADC.

In its ruling the Meghalaya High Court said that mere fact that the State Government has not notified the election of the petitioner does not lead to a situation where it can be said that the petitioner has not at all been elected.

“The process of election is governed by the Rules of 1951, which does not anywhere provide for notification of result of election by the State Government. When the petitioner has been elected as the Chief Executive Member of the Council, validity of his election cannot be made to depend upon the contingency of the notification by the State Government or else as this would completely negate the opinion of the majority and shall undermine the autonomy of the District Council, howsoever limited it may be, envisaged in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India,” Chief Justice Rafiq said in his order.

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