Even after verdict, Bengal parliamentary secretaries avail benefits   

Kolkata, June 2 (IANS) Their appointments have been annulled by a court but parliament secretaries in West Bengal continue to avail benefits attached to the post, prompting the petitioners to explore legal action.

Parliamentary secretaries including the likes of Nandigram legislator Firoza Bibi, and Baranagar’s Tapas Ray were seen zooming into the state assembly in beacon fitted cars on Tuesday.

“It’s really unfortunate to see the lawmakers refusing to respect the high court and continue to avail the benefits. Their act is tantamount of contempt of court and we are mulling to move the court again over the issue,” said Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, a counsel for the petitioners.

A Calcutta High Court bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Asim Kumar Banerjee on Monday set aside a law passed by the Mamata Banerjee government for appointing parliamentary secretaries to “aid and advise” state ministers.

The state government appointed more than two dozen MLAs from the ruling Trinamool Congress to the posts deemed equivalent to a minister of state or deputy minister including pay and allowances.

The court’s verdict came into a petition challenging the West Bengal Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, enacted in 2013.

“The state government is likely to move the Supreme Court in appeal, so we will wait for that. If they don’t go in appeal, we may approach the high court seeking action for contempt,” said Bhattacharya, also a Communist Party of India-Marxist leader.

“Besides the contempt charge, we would also be moving the court seeking refund of all the taxpayers’ money that was splurged on these secretaries,” he added.

Asked by the media about why they continued to avail the benefits, most of the parliamentary secretaries said they were yet to get any orders from the state government in this regard.

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