Chandigarh: With the President holding his assent to the Delhi government bill seeking amendment to the “Office of Profit” law, once again clouds of uncertainty are hanging low over the Kejriwal Government in Delhi.
As per Home ministry officials, the refusal of Presidential assent means that the 21 legislators appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries in 2015 would automatically stand to be disqualified from membership of the House. Under the constitution of India, any legislator found holding an Office of Profit stands to be automatically disqualified.
The 21 MLAs include Alka Lamba, Jarnail Singh, Adarsh Shastri and Rajesh Gupta. The Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has 67 members in the 70 member house. The disqualification of the 21 members would necessitate fresh elections to these seats.
The bill, seeking amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act 1997, passed by the Delhi legislative assembly in 2015, was meant to validate the post of Parliamentary Secretaries in the Delhi Government with a retrospective effect. The appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries was done on March 3, 2015.
The President had referred the matter to the Election Commission, which is still to give its view on the same. The Commission has sought replies from the legislators based on which it is expected to make its viewpoint known. Delhi lawyer Prashant Patel had earlier petitioned the Election Commission seeking disqualification of the MLAs for holding Office of Profit in contravention of the Indian Constitution.
As of now, the AAP leadership is planning to seek legal recourse to the Presidential decree. AAP leaders are maintaining that the matter of re-election did not arise at all as the issue was still pending with the Election Commission.
Former Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixit has said that despite the statements made to the contrary by Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, the post of Parliamentary Secretaries did not exist in Delhi and that the appointments made were essentially illegal. Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, before forwarding the bill to the Center had said that the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act 1991, the Delhi Government could only have one PS attached to the office of the Chief Minister.
Subsequent to the development Kejriwal has taken to Twitter to claim that these MLAs were working free of cost for the government and none of them had been given a car, bungalow or any other such facility. Senior leaders of AAP, in a closed door meeting, have blamed the ‘fear psychosis’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding AAP as the reason behind the development.
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