In a major relief for Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Election Commission (EC) has cleared Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and party MLA Surinder Singh of allegations made in two complaints of ‘Office of Profit’ referred to it by President Pranab Mukherjee, reported The Indian Express. The EC’s decision has added significance, as it has come against the backdrop of allegations levelled by Kejriwal against election commissioners OP Rawat and AK Joti, claiming that they were close to the ruling dispensation at the Centre.
Last year, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vivek Garg had urged the President to cancel Sisodia’s membership to the state assembly. According to him, there was no provision for the post of Deputy CM in the NCT of Delhi Act that made Sisodia’s appointment as an ‘Office of Profit’. After his petition was forwarded by the President’s office for EC’s opinion, the latter cleared the allegations on the ground that the post of Deputy CM has also been created in other states. It further backed it saying that the country has even had a deputy prime minister at one point.
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The other complaint referred by the President’s office was against Singh, an AAP MLA from Delhi Cantonment. He was accused of profiting from his membership of New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) by illegally occupying four government flats.
So far, the President’s office has referred as many as four ‘Office of Profit’ cases against AAP legislators including one demanding disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs for being unconstitutionally appointed as parliamentary secretaries to assist various ministers of the Delhi government and second seeking disqualification of 27 legislators for holding ‘Office of Profit’ as chairpersons of patient welfare committees in various Delhi government hospitals. However, it is the first ‘Office of Profit’ cases against Sisodia and Singh, which have been disposed of by the Commission.
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Meanwhile, despite requested by The Indian Express, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi did not comment on the issue.