It is an anomaly that needs to be corrected. The Legislative Assemblies have the right to make appointments to posts on their own, in the manner they please. This is an acknowledgement of the independence of these institutions. However, as has emerged in Uttarakhand, this can lead to irregularities and favouritism, which cannot, however, be described as illegal. In Kerala, for instance, it goes even a step further. It has been brought to light that those employed as ministers’ OSDs become eligible for pensions in two years. So, the ruling Left Democratic Front employs members of its cadre for that period of time, after which they resign and work for their respective parties while receiving pensions from the state. Then another lot is employed for two years and qualify for pensions. Even the Supreme Court has expressed concern in this regard.
Such misuse of power is part of human nature but it is in the interest of good governance that, even if technically legal, a halt is brought to these practices. Reform is badly needed in each of the institutions if only because appointments made on the basis of anything other than merit impact on performance. At the same time, as is the case in the US, a politician needs to bring along his or her team so that there is continuity in policies and their implementation. This fact needs to be acknowledged but the tenure of such appointees should be co-terminus with that of the politician. This requirement needs to be acknowledged and the rules should allow for such appointments.
It is hoped that the present Speaker of the Uttarakhand Assembly, Ritu Khanduri Bhushan, will initiate necessary reforms taking into consideration best practices across the world. If this is not done quickly, the institution will lose its respect in the eyes of the people, which cannot be good for Democracy.