IN HIMACHAL, MUKESH AGNIHOTRI SWORN IN DIRECTLY AS DY. CM HOWEVER IN SEP, 2021 SS RANDHAWA & OP SONI INITIALLY SWORN IN AS MINISTERS IN CHANNI CABINET & LATER DESIGNATED AS DY. CMs
IN FEB, 2020, MANISH SISODIA TOO GOT DESIGNATED AS DY. CM OF GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI AFTER BEING SWORN IN AS MINISTER
LK ADVANI WAS ALSO DESIGNATED AS DY. PM IN VAJPAYEE GOVT IN JUNE, 2002
CHANDIGARH – If the Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) in a State can be appointed and consequently sworn in as such directly by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of Chief Minister (CM) just like other Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State or else DCM is (re)designated as such from amongst duly sworn in Cabinet Ministers by the Competent Authority i.e. either by the Governor on the recommendation of CM or else by the CM itself on his own ? This issue has assumed significance since a difference has been witnessed on appointment / designation of Deputy Chief Ministers in two States of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in recent time.
This past Sunday, on Dec 11, Himachal Pradesh Governor, Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar immediately after administering Oath of Office and Secrecy to Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu as Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh administered Oath of Office and Secrecy to Mukesh Agnihotri as Deputy Chief Minister.
Meanwhile an Advocate at Punjab & Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar, is skeptical if the Deputy Chief Minister in a State can be directly appointed and sworn in as such like the Chief Minister of the State. He recalls that a year back on 20 Sep 2021, after Charanjit Singh Channi was sworn in as then Chief Minister of Punjab, immediately thereafter Sukhjinder Singh Randhwa and Om Prakash Soni were administered Oath as (Cabinet) Ministers by the Governor Banwarilal Purhohit and their appointment as such ( i.e. Ministers) got notified in the Official Gazette of Punjab Government on the same date i.e. 20 Sep 2021. After passage of 4 days, via a fresh Gazette Notification dated 24 Sep 2021, both of the above viz. Randhawa and Soni got designated as Deputy Chief Ministers. Earlier, Manish Sisodia, too got designated as Dy CM in Arvind Kejriwal led AAP Govt in NCT of Delhi after being sworn in as Minister in Feb, 2020.
Pertinent that even LK Advani, the then Union Home Minister in AB Vajpayee led NDA dispensation got designated (and not appointed) as Dy Prime Minister in June, 2002.
Hemant says that in his home State of Haryana, three years ago on 27 October 2019, Dushyant Chautala was however appointed and sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister directly (on the recommendation of Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar) by the then Haryana Governor Satyadev Narain Arya . On the same day, a Gazette Notification was issued by the Cabinet Secretariat of Haryana Government which clearly mentioned Dushyant’s appointment as Dy. CM of Haryana.
A fortnight after Dushyant was appointed Dy. CM , a Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Rajiv Sharma (since retired) dismissed a PIL challenging Dushyant’s appointment as Dy. CM. The HC relied upon a Jan, 1990 judgment of the Supreme Court (K.M.Sharma Vs Devi Lal) as well verdicts of various High Courts.
Hemant asserts that It has been now a settled law that mere description of a person as Deputy Prime Minister at the Central Government or Deputy Chief Minister in State Government does not amount to violation of the Constitution nor does it confer upon him any extra powers under the Constitution and the status of such person continues to remain as that of a (Cabinet) Minister. As on today, in Andhra Pradesh, there are five Dy. CMs while in Uttar Pradesh, there are two. In Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura there is only one Dy. CM.
Hemant legally opines that there is no illegality much less than unconstitutionality in “description” or in others words “designation” of duly appointed & duly sworn in Cabinet Minister as Deputy Chief Minister who otherwise of course ought to firstly appointed and notified as Minister since Constitution of India in Article 164(1) envisages appointment of only Chief Minister by the Governor and Ministers by the Governor on advice of Chief Minister.