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Delhi office of profit row updates: Manish Sisodia calls EC's recommendation to disqualify MLAs 'unconstitutional'

In a major blow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, the Election Commission of India recommended the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding office of profit as parliamentary secretaries

FP Staff January 20, 2018 18:07:07 IST
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Delhi office of profit row updates: Manish Sisodia calls EC's recommendation to disqualify MLAs 'unconstitutional'

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: After the Election Commission recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit as parliamentary secretaries, the AAP lashed out at the Election Commission, saying it was working as an agent for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a major blow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, the Election Commission of India recommended the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding office of profit as parliamentary secretaries, triggering calls for the resignation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and an angry reaction from the ruling party.

The election commission gave its opinion to President Ram Nath Kovind 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.

Delhi office of profit row updates Manish Sisodia calls ECs recommendation to disqualify MLAs unconstitutional

Representational image. PTI

The decision led to calls by the Congress and BJP — who have been demanding the disqualification — for Kejriwal's resignation.

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.

The AAP approached the Delhi High Court in a bid to stave off the impending action against its MLAs, but the court refused any relief saying there was no commission order and it cannot act on media reports. The matter will come up again on Monday.

The president is bound to act in accordance with the poll panel's recommendation. There was no official word from the poll panel. But sources said the Commission's recommendation had been sent to Kovind.

The move will pave the way for by-polls in Delhi for 20 constituencies of the 70-member Assembly. The AAP at present has officially 66 members in the House although some have turned dissidents. The other four seats are held by the BJP.

Even if 20 MLAs are disqualified, the ruling party will still have a comfortable majority in the Delhi Assembly. But by-elections, if called, will put to test Kejriwal's grip on Delhi.

The MLAs who face the axe 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 (Tilak Nagar).

The AAP said the EC recommendation was based on false allegations, alleging that the "BJP through its agents seriously compromises the prestige of the EC just to divert the attention of the nation from its all round failures".

"What (the) Modi government appointed Election Commission is leaking to the media is a recommendation made without hearing the arguments of MLAs on the false allegation of office of profit. Such a blatantly biased recommendation will not stand scrutiny in court of law," Kejriwal's media advisor Nagendra Sharma said.

With inputs from agencies

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