In a big blow to the Arvind Kejriwal government, the Delhi High Court today set aside the appointment of 21 AAP MLAs as parliamentary secretaries. The High court said that the appointment of MLAs as parliamentary secretaries was illegal in the light of the recent judgement on LG powers. The state government had no approval of the Delhi LG for the appointments. In a recent judgement, the HC had said that the LG was not bound to act as per the “aid and advice” of the elected government because Delhi is not a state but a Union territory.
AAP had appointed 21 parliamentary secretaries to assist the Delhi government ministers. Thereafter, the state government sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.
Through the Bill, which was forwarded to the Centre by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, AAP wanted “retrospective” exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions. With the President refusing assent to the bill in June, the 21 ruling party MLAs were left with no legal backing for holding the post of parliamentary secretaries.
The Election Commission, which examined the issue, took “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. Maintaining that there was no “pecuniary benefit” associated with the post, the MLAs, in their response to the poll body, also said that that parliamentary secretary is a “post” without any remuneration or power.
The state government had sought HC’s intervention to prove the legality of the appointment of MLAs as parliamentary secretaries. However, the HC judgement is set to cause a major loss of face to the Kejriwal government, which has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons including corruption and exploitation of women.