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SC’s Decision Regarding Deputy CM’s Post

Why is it in the news?

  • The Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of Deputy Chief Ministers (Deputy CMs) in states, highlighting the absence of such a position in the Constitution.
Historical Context

·       The concept of Deputy CMs in India has historical roots. Anugrah Narayan Sinha is often cited as one of the first Deputy CMs in India.

·       Their prevalence increased notably after 1967, following the reduction of Congress’s near-total dominance in national politics.

Constitutional Basis

·       Article 163(1) of the Constitution establishes a Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister to advise the Governor.

·       Notably, there’s no explicit mention of the Deputy Chief Minister position in this article or in Article 164.

·       Despite the lack of constitutional provision, the Deputy CM position is commonly understood as equivalent in rank to a Cabinet Minister in the state government.

·       They typically enjoy the same pay and perks as a Cabinet Minister, and their roles often involve assisting and supporting the Chief Minister in the governance of the state.

Legal Challenge

  • The petition challenging the appointments of Deputy Chief Ministers alleged that such appointments were motivated by religious and sectarian considerations.
  • The petitioner argued that these appointments violated Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 15 (which prohibits discrimination based on various factors) of the Constitution.

Supreme Court’s Observations

  • The Supreme Court, however, found no inherent harm in the appointment of Deputy Chief Ministers. It reasoned that they are ultimately Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) and Ministers in the State government.
  • The court emphasized that Deputy CMs are essentially Ministers in the government of the state, indicating that they hold similar responsibilities and functions.

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