Delhi: Even as the refusal of assent to a Delhi bill to shield 21 AAP MLAs from office of profit rule has triggered a major row, it has now emerged that several AAP parliamentary secretaries had told the Election Commission in early May that their post was similar to an 'intern' or a 'volunteer assistant' attached to a Cabinet minister.
As per reports, the MLAs, quoting from multiple Supreme Court judgements, had claimed that parliamentary secretary 'is a mere post as opposed to an office'.
A reply had been sought from the EC after advocate Prashant Patel had petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee for their dismissal.
The parliamentary secretaries also supposedly told the commission that office space and office support systems had not been provided to them.
Meanwhile, faced with the prospect of fresh polls if the MLAs holding posts of parliamentary secretaries are disqualified, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said yesterday that President Pranab Mukherjee's decision was based on Centre's recommendation and had wondered why nobody was talking about legislators occupying similar posts in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab.
President had refused to give his assent to a bill passed by the Delhi Assembly last year seeking amendment in the existing law to insulate the 21 legislators from the purview of the office of profit law with retrospective effect.
The legislators were appointed parliamentary secretaries last year.
The EC is currently examining petitions seeking disqualification of the legislators. The commission had sought replies from the MLAs in question.
Fresh elections will have to be held if the 21 MLAs are disqualified on the ground of holding office of profit.
The AAP has 67 MLAs in the 70 member Assembly. The remaining three are BJP legislators.
(With PTI inputs)