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Office of Profit case updates: AAP withdraws plea on MLAs' disqualification, Delhi HC to hear main petition on 20 March

Six AAP MLAs had approached the Delhi High Court on Friday, after the Election Commission recommended disqualification of 20 of the party's MLAs for holding office of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries.

FP Staff January 22, 2018 17:38:52 IST
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Office of Profit case updates: AAP withdraws plea on MLAs' disqualification, Delhi HC to hear main petition on 20 March

Highlights

16:57 (ist)

AAP demands disqualification of 116 BJP MLAs in Madhya Pradesh for Holding Office of Profit; 4 Haryana MLAs too face similar charges

AAP has demanded that the Election Commission show similar haste and take action against 116 BJP legislators in Madhya Pradesh as they too hold posts that come under the ambit of Office of Profit.

“Of the MLAs in question in 2016, most are members of Jan Bhagidari samitis of colleges which comes under office of profit," former state AAP secretary Akshay Hunka told News18. He said that while these MLAs are not paid salaries, they do get travel allowances from colleges.

"Two ministers - Paras Jain and Deepak Joshi – also hold office of profit by virtue of being office bearers of Indian Scout and Guide," he said, adding that several more ministers would have fallen under the ambit in the last couple of years, according to News18. 

Meanwhile, in a seperate but related development, a petition was filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court against four BJP MLAs who had been earlier appointed as chief parliamentary secretaries by the Haryana government, but they were removed after the high court last year quashed their appointments, The Indian Express reported. 

16:31 (ist)

Gopal Rai says AAP 'not afraid of elections'

The Aam Aadmi Party has claimed to be "victimised" in the wake of the EC's recommendation to disqualify its 20 MLAs for holding offices of profit, and asserted that it was "not afraid of elections".

AAP's Delhi unit chief Gopal Rai alleged that the poll panel failed to give the party a hearing before sending its recommendations to President Ram Nath Kovind. "It is an undemocratic step. They are taking revenge from people of Delhi, the government and chief minister of Delhi," he said.

18:55 (ist)

Past precedents of office of profit case and what was the outcome 

In 2006, a question was raised over Sonia's National Advisory Council post, which she held apart from being the MP from Rae Bareilly.

The Opposition parties at the time had argued that since as NAC chairperson, she enjoyed the rank and status of a Union Cabinet minister, the office of profit law applied. They had petitioned the then president APJ Abdul Kalam, asking him to disqualify Sonia as an MP. Congress leaders, meanwhile, had argued that the post of NAC chairperson was not an office of profit as Sonia received no salary or perks, and she had a purely advisory role. Sonia, however, quit as MP and recontested the elections. 

According to Rediff, the Election Commission had also sent a notice to Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Rajya Sabha member and chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Development Council, on a similar petition against him.

Jaya Bachchan was also disqualified from the Rajya Sabha, while she was also chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Federation. Similarly, two Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly members, Bajrang Bahadur Singh and Uma Shankar Singh, were disqualified in January 2015 due to holding government contracts.

17:09 (ist)

What is an office of profit?

Although, an office of profit, is not defined in the Constitution, the poll panel has previously noted that any position that brings to the person holding it some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit. It may be an office or place of profit if it carries some remuneration, financial advantage, benefit etc. The amount of such profit is immaterial.

Based on various Supreme Court judgements, four tests have been established. 

  •  First, whether the government exercises control over appointment, removal and performance of the functions of the office.
  • Second, whether the office has any remuneration attached to it.
  • Third, whether the body in which the office is held has government powers (releasing money, allotment of land, granting licences etc.)
  • Fourth, whether the office enables the holder to influence by way of patronage.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Jan 22, 2018 - 17:26 (IST)

Delhi HC will hear main petition on 20 March

The Delhi High Court has agreed to hear the Aam Aadmi Party's main petition challenging the maintainability of the proceedings at the Election Commission of India. The matter will be heard on 20 March. 

Jan 22, 2018 - 17:21 (IST)

AAP to file fresh petition on disqualification after examining President's order

AAP MLAs' counsel told the Delhi High Court that he will file an appeal after examining President's order disqualifying 20 MLAs in office of profit case.

Jan 22, 2018 - 17:02 (IST)

Delhi High Court to hear AAP's main petition on 20 March; party withdrew application relating to disqualification only 

Jan 22, 2018 - 16:57 (IST)

AAP demands disqualification of 116 BJP MLAs in Madhya Pradesh for Holding Office of Profit; 4 Haryana MLAs too face similar charges

AAP has demanded that the Election Commission show similar haste and take action against 116 BJP legislators in Madhya Pradesh as they too hold posts that come under the ambit of Office of Profit.

“Of the MLAs in question in 2016, most are members of Jan Bhagidari samitis of colleges which comes under office of profit," former state AAP secretary Akshay Hunka told News18. He said that while these MLAs are not paid salaries, they do get travel allowances from colleges.

"Two ministers - Paras Jain and Deepak Joshi – also hold office of profit by virtue of being office bearers of Indian Scout and Guide," he said, adding that several more ministers would have fallen under the ambit in the last couple of years, according to News18. 

Meanwhile, in a seperate but related development, a petition was filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court against four BJP MLAs who had been earlier appointed as chief parliamentary secretaries by the Haryana government, but they were removed after the high court last year quashed their appointments, The Indian Express reported. 

Jan 22, 2018 - 16:50 (IST)

AAP withdraws plea as it was filed before President's decision; will file fresh petition

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has withdrawn plea seeking interim relief for its 20 disqualified MLAs, saying that the plea was filed before the President's decision came. The party will file a fresh petition in the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the order disqualifying its MLAs, on the grounds that the poll panel did not grant them a fair hearing. The party will also argue that the MLAs did not obtain any profit as alleged parliamentary secretaries. 

Jan 22, 2018 - 16:44 (IST)

AAP withdraws plea from Delhi HC

Jan 22, 2018 - 16:23 (IST)

EC tells Delhi HC it recommended AAP MLA's disqualificiation on 19 Jan

Jan 22, 2018 - 16:19 (IST)

Why the haste to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs, asks Shiv Sena

The Shiv Sena on Monday raised questions over "the haste" with which 20 legislators of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi were disqualified for holding 'office of profit'.

"This is an unprecedented incident in which so many elected legislators have been disqualified in a wholesale manner. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is facing a crisis, and that is because of the public campaign against corruption and injustice," the Shiv Sena said.

There were similar complaints against legislators during the tenure of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, and even now in different states, but their positions have remained intact.

In the case of AAP's 20 legislators, the EC has acted in haste, that is the opinion of even former ECI officials, and that too, without giving them an opportunity to present their case, it said.

"The EC gave its ruling on the complaints against these legislators without a hearing in the matter or giving the 20 AAP elected representatives a chance to explain themselves. This is wrong," the Sena said.

Jan 22, 2018 - 15:59 (IST)

Politics in matters of welfare is treason: Arvind Kejriwal

Speaking at a rally in Nazafgarh area, Delhi Chief Minister said, "I feel that there should be no politics in matters of welfare of the people. If you want to do politics, do it before elections. When a party wins, it is the duty of every party to work for the people and the country. Politics in matters of welfare is treason.”

According to The Indian Express, the party has already sounded the poll bugle as by-polls in 20 Delhi seats increasingly become a possibility. 

Jan 22, 2018 - 15:53 (IST)

Yashwant Sinha calls disqualification of AAP MLAs 'Tughlaqshahi'

Latest update: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has withdrawn plea seeking interim relief for its 20 disqualified MLAs, saying that the plea was filed before the President's decision came. The party's lawyer told the court that their plea has become infructuous as President has accepted EC recommendation
and notification disqualifying them has been issued. The party will file a fresh petition in the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the order disqualifying its MLAs, on the grounds that the poll panel did not grant them a fair hearing. The party will also argue that the MLAs did not obtain any profit as alleged parliamentary secretaries. Meanwhile, the main petition on the Office of Profit case will be heard on 20 March.

Six AAP MLAs had approached the Delhi High Court on Friday, after the Election Commission recommended disqualification of 20 of the party's MLAs for holding office of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries. The court had, however, refused to grant interim relief to the AAP MLAs, listing the matter for further hearing on Monday.

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind had earlier on Sunday approved the Election Commission's recommendation to disqualify the legislators.

Following the approval, the Union Law and Justice Ministry issued a notification saying that the President has held that the 20 members of Delhi Legislative Assembly stand disqualified under 15 (1) (a) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) act.

Office of Profit case updates AAP withdraws plea on MLAs disqualification Delhi HC to hear main petition on 20 March

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

These 20 MLAs are Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gehlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh.

It gave its opinion to the President on a complaint by advocate Prashant Patel, a member of the Hindu Legal Cell, in June 2015, who petitioned then President Pranab Mukherjee alleging illegality in the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.

The application by Patel said 21 AAP MLAs, including Jarnail Singh (Rajouri Garden) who resigned to contest the Punjab Assembly polls last year, were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers in the Delhi government in violation of the Constitution.

Now if AAP fails to get reprieve from the courts, Delhi will have by-polls for the 20 seats. The only technical aspect was that now the Delhi Assembly Speaker will have to notify the 20 vacancies for the Election Commission to announce the by-polls.

Once the vacancies are announced by the Assembly, the AAP's strength would go down to 46 from 66 in the 70-member House. However, it will continue to have a majority to run the state.

While, the BJP welcomed the president's decision and demanded Kejriwal's resignation on moral grounds, the Congress alleged that there was a deal between the BJP and the AAP due to which the EC delayed the disqualification recommendation by a month.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "There was some logic when God gave us 67 seats. The Almighty stood behind us in our every step. Otherwise we would have been nothing... Just don't stray away from the path of truth."

He told a gathering in Najafgarh, "They are trying to harass us by all means... They got CBI raid done at my office, but after 24-hour search they only found my four mufflers. Our MLAs were arrested."

"The L-G had called 400 files of our government (pertaining to decisions taken in two years), but when they did not find anything against us... they today disqualified our 20 MLAs."

Interestingly, BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha backed the AAP with the former saying the decison depicts "tughluqshahi" of the worst order.

"President's order disqualifying the 20 AAP MLAs is complete miscarriage of natural justice. No hearing, no waiting for High Court's order. It is Tughluqshahi of the worst order," Yashwant Sinha tweeted.

Shatrughan Sinha said the "politics of vendetta" against the AAP would not last long. AAP leader Ashutosh said the president's order is "unconstitutional" and "dangerous for democracy."

Saurab Bharadwaj, chief spokesperson of the party's Delhi unit alleged the chief election commissioner and the election commissioners are expected to behave in an independent and impartial manner and not as "political stooges of their masters who appoint them".

"The Election Commission is a constitutional institution of continuity and not a retired members club of a group of political appointees," he said.

"A first reading of the Narendra Modi government appointed Election Commission's biased opinion and subsequent notification issued by the BJP's central government to hastily disqualify 20 elected Delhi MLAs shows the constitutional authorities today are behaving like handmaidens of the central government," he alleged.

Citing a poll panel order, Bharadwaj said in June last year, the then Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioner AK Joti had said the commission will intimate the next date of hearing to all the parties concerned in the present proceedings in due course.

However, the date of next hearing was not conveyed and the poll panel arrived at the decision before hearing them out, he claimed.

"AAP has complete faith in the judiciary and will challenge this biased, illegal and illogical order of the Modi government in courts of law," Bharadwaj said.

AAP MLAs were appointed parliamentary secretaries and this was described by petitioner Prashant Patel as them holding offices of profit. Parliamentary Secretaries assist ministers with their work. AAP insisted that despite holding the office these MLAs did not take any salaries or perks.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date:

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