AAP MLAs office of profit case: In a big jolt Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party and its 21 MLAs, Election Commission of India on Saturday rejected their plea to drop office of profit case against them. The hearing in the case was concluded on 27th March earlier this year, and the EC had reserved its order in the matter.The controversy erupted after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appointed 21 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries in March 2015, amending the provisions of Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, in June 2015 to exempt the post of parliamentary secretary from the definition of office of profit with retrospective effect. The 21 AAP MLA are facing prospects of disqualification in the order expected in the coming days. In the same matter, AAP MLAs had filed a plea in EC, demanding the dropping of the case in entirety.
According to a Press Trust of India report, EC order stated that the Commission was of the “considered opinion” that the AAP MLAs did hold “de facto the office of parliamentary secretaries from March 13, 2015, to September 8, 2016”. The order comes days before Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi is scheduled to retire from his duties. The report further says that Election Commissioner O P Rawat, who was questioned by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over impartiality, has not signed on the order.
Earlier, the 21 legislators had argued that the case should be dropped against them after Delhi High Court ruling. However, the petitioner, Prashant Patel had argued that high court order should have no bearing on the case being heard by the EC as the MLAs were enjoying the fruits of that office till their appointment was set aside by the high court.
The Delhi High Court had on September 8 set aside the appointment of 21 party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries. The court had said the order to appoint them as parliamentary secretaries were given without the concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor. The order passed by a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal had set aside the March 13, 2015, order after the counsel appearing for the Delhi government “conceded” that it was issued without taking concurrence or views of the LG.