Office of profit row: President Ram Nath Kovind approves disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs
President Ram Nath Kovind approved EC's recommendation to disqualify 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators for allegedly holding offices of profit
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday approved the Election Commission's (EC) recommendation to disqualify 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators for allegedly holding offices of profit.
— Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) January 21, 2018
We had hoped to go to the President asking him to give us a chance to present ourselves. Now we received this news. AAP will knock the doors of HC and even SC if the need be: Gopal Rai, Delhi Minister on recommendation of disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs approved by the President pic.twitter.com/TgyENWSgUf
— ANI (@ANI) January 21, 2018
A notification issued by the law ministry quoted the President as saying that in the light of the opinion expressed by the Election Commission (EC), the 20 members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly have been disqualified.
The 20 AAP MLAs on Saturday had sought time from the President to present their views, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had said.
The 20 MLAs had a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sisodia, and other senior AAP leaders at the chief minister's residence on Saturday, after which they decided to approach the president.
"The MLAs were not given opportunity to present evidence with them. They have a lot to tell and prove that there was no office of profit case. It is unconstitutional and illegal," Sisodia said on Saturday.
"We are seeking appointment to meet the president and the MLAs will convey him that it is a biased recommendation and against natural justice," he said. On Friday, the Election Commission asked the president to disqualify the 20 MLAs for holding offices of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly.
In its opinion sent to president Kovind, the EC said the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between 13 March, 2015 and 8 September, 2016, held offices of profit, and were liable to be disqualified as legislators, highly-placed sources had said.
The development does not threaten the AAP government in Delhi as it has 66 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly. Still, the BJP and the Congress have demanded Kejriwal's resignation on moral grounds. The Delhi BJP on Friday began discussions on the possibility of bypolls to 20 Assembly segments after the EC's recommendation.
The BJP leaders discussed the issue in a meeting of the party's core committee members on Friday night, party sources said.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh on Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government of trying to "murder democracy" and alleged that the EC had taken a unilateral and biased decision to recommend disqualification of party legislators.
Addressing a press conference in the state capital, he had said that the party would knock on the doors of the court against this "unjust decision".
With inputs from agencies
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