New Delhi: The Election Commission of India today (24 June 2017) rejected the plea by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its 21 Delhi MLAs to drop the office of profit case against them.
In its order, as reported by a section of the media, EC has stated that the Commission was of the “considered opinion” that the AAP MLAs de facto (held) the office of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015 and September 8, 2016.
Today’s order comes in connection with the petition of Prashant Patel, Advocate, seeking disqualification of Praveen Kumar, Member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, and 20 other Members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. The hearing in this matter had concluded in March this year and the EC had reserved the order.
The petitioner had first made a two pages complaint on 19 June, 2015 to the President in terms of section 15(3) of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act 1991 alleging that the 2l Members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly have become disqualified for continuing as Members of the Assembly as they were holding office of profit under the Government of Delhi.
On 28 December, 2015, the petitioner made a second complaint direct to the Commission.
Through their counsels, the applicants in this case – Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress, submitted before the EC that the present proceedings raised important questions of law and facts and their interest, being national parties, lay in assisting the Commission to come to right decision by producing all relevant case law and information.
Enquiry proceedings were initiated by the Election Commission on the basis of the reference received from the President of India under section 15(4) of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 seeking the opinion of the Commission on the question of alleged disqualification of 21 sitting members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly
Arguing their case, the 21 AAP MLAs/respondents had contended that the case be dropped against them as the Delhi High Court had already given a ruling in this matter. The petitioner, Prashant Patel had opposed this argument on the ground that the respondents were holding office of profit till their appointments were set aside by the High Court.
After the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs had been appointed as parliamentary secretaries in March 2015, the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997 had been amended with retrospective effect to exclude the post of parliamentary secretary from the definition of office of profit.