Chappar Chiri (Mohali): Twenty one newly-elected legislators on Tuesday took oath as Chief Parliamentary Secretaries in Punjab.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal administered the oath of office to the 21 legislators, 17 SAD MLAs and four from the alliance partner BJP, at a function here, about 25 km from Chandigarh.
According to political observers, the move is an attempt to keep all MLAs happy as in the 117-member state Assembly, the Cabinet strength cannot go beyond 18, which is 15 per cent of the strength of the Assembly.
Of the 21 legislators sworn in as CPS, 12 MLAs will hold the post for the first time.
The first timers include Navjot Kaur, wife of cricketer-turned politician BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, Parkash Chand Garg and Sarup Singla.
The number of CPS this time was increased to 21 from 14 in the previous tenure of the Badal-led SAD-BJP alliance, which returned to power with an improved tally of 68 seats (SAD 56, BJP 12) in the 2012 state Assembly elections against 67 which the two parties secured five years back in 2007.
The appointment of CPSs was challenged in the High Court in the previous Badal term and the case is still pending in the court.
A local lawyer has also challenged the appointment of 21 CPS sworn in n the Punjab and Haryana High Court here yesterday on the ground that no such post exists "under the Constitution of India or under any statute or Act passed by the Parliament or any state legislature".
Justice Rameshwar Singh Malik has fixed April 16 as the date of hearing of the petition.