New Delhi: The Election Commission will from Thursday commence personal hearing of 21 AAP MLAs, who have been made parliamentary secretaries and are facing the risk of disqualification from the Assembly in the Office of Profit case.
The 21 AAP MLAs had sought a personal hearing before the poll body in their reply to a notice by the Election Commission in June. The petition for their disqualification was made over their appointment as parliamentary secretaries by lawyer Prashant Patel.
At the first hearing, the Commission may also decide on whether to hear all the MLAs together or individually.
Maintaining that there was no "pecuniary benefit" associated with the post, the MLAs, in their response to the Commission, also said that that parliamentary secretary is a "post" without any remuneration or power.
AAP had appointed 21 parliamentary secretaries to assist the Delhi government ministers. Thereafter, the government sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.
Through the Bill, which has been forwarded to the Centre by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, AAP wanted "retrospective" exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions.
The EC, which is examining the issue, has taken "cognisance" of the President's decision against signing a Delhi government's bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the ambit office of profit.
With the President refusing assent to the bill early this month, the 21 ruling party MLAs at present have no legal backing for holding the post of parliamentary secretaries.
Questions have been raised over their appointment by the opposition.
The Lt Governor has said that the office of parliamentary secretary is defined as an "office of profit if one looks at the statutes of Delhi" and that as per the GNCT Act, the city can have only one parliamentary secretary attached to the office of the Chief Minister.
The 21 MLAs include Alka Lamba, Jarnail Singh, Adarsh Shastri and Rajesh Gupta. PTI