The appointment of deputy chief ministers in state governments is not unconstitutional, said the Supreme Court on Monday while dismissing a petition, reported Live Law.

The plea had contended that the post of deputy chief minister violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which deals with equality before the law.

“What is the basis for the appointment of deputy chief ministers,” the petitioner had asked. “The basis is only religion and some particular sect of society. There is no other basis for appointment to such a post. This is against Articles 14 and 15(1) (A).”

Clause 1 of Article 15 prohibits the government from discriminating against any citizen based on religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Under Article 163(1) of the Constitution, a state government includes a council of ministers with the chief minister as its head. Neither Article 163 nor Article 164, which pertains to provisions on state ministers, mentions the post of deputy chief minister.

A deputy chief minister has the same pay and perks as that of a cabinet minister in the state.

On Monday, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that the post of deputy chief minister is just like any other ministerial post in a state.

“A deputy chief minister is first and foremost a minister in the government in the states,” the bench said, reported The Indian Express. “The appellation of a deputy chief minister does not breach the constitutional position, namely that a person who holds the office of the minister must in any event before a stipulated period be a member of the legislature in order to qualify for appointment as a minister.”

The bench also pointed out that the post of deputy chief minister does not provide any extra perk like a higher salary and hence, it was just a label.

Fourteen states in the country have deputy chief ministers and most of them have a coalition government.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has the highest number of deputies at five. In Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Ajit Pawar from the Nationalist Congress Party are deputies of Eknath Shinde.

Other states that have deputy chief ministers are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.