Election Commission finds appointment of Arvind Kejriwal's 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries invalid?
AAP has 67 MLAs in the 70 member Delhi Assembly. The remaining three are BJP legislators
Delhi: Even as it was reported that the Election Commission, which is examining the issue of disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs, had taken 'cognisance' of the President's decision against signing a Delhi government bill to exclude the post of parliamentary secretary from the ambit office of profit, as media report said on Thursday that the commission has found the appointment of the legislators as invalid.
As per a report in India Today, the EC internal report suggests that there was no provision of appointing a parliamentary secretary to a minister currently applicable in Delhi.
It further says that the report states that the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi had examined the updated version of the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act 1997.
He had also gone through all the amendments that have been made to the act so far.
The EC has reportedly come to the conclusion that the appointments made by Delhi government were invalid.
AAP MLAs who could be disqualified are - Alka Lamba, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Adarsh Shastri, Madan Lal, Shiv Charan Goel, Sanjeev Jha, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar), Rajesh Gupta, Anil Kumar Bajpai, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Vijender Garg, Jarnail Singh (Rajouri Garden), Kailash Gahlot, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi, Rajesh Rishi and Sukhbir Singh Dalal.
Meanwhile, sources in the commission said while the poll body has taken cognisance of the latest development, the ongoing proceedings, where a petitioner, Prashant Patel, has sought disqualification of the MLAs, will continue independent of the decision of the President, as per PTI.
They said any decision of the commission, which functions as a quasi-judicial body while dealing with such issues, will be based on the merits of the arguments to be placed before it by the MLAs as well as the petitioner.
Earlier, it was reported 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.
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.
On March 13 last year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had passed an order appointing the 21 party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.
Subsequently, the Delhi government had sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.
The bill was forwarded by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to the Centre, which in turn was sent to the President with its comments.
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 Agency inputs)