NEW DELHI: The disqualified Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs today denied in the Delhi High Court of having received any remuneration, monetary benefits or perks, including official vehicles, in their capacity as parliamentary secretaries.
The MLAs, all 20 of whom have now entered a plea in the high court against their disqualification, submitted before a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar that the Election Commission (EC) did not consider the aspect of what benefits they had derived while ruling that they held offices of profit.
Eight MLAs had entered a plea in the high court against their disqualification, while the remaining 12 MLAs approached the court yesterday.
The bench, however, said the decisive test of whether someone held an office of profit was "the power of appointment".
"The other factors come in later. The emphasis is more on the power of appointment and if exercised would it create a conflict of interest," the court said.
It also said that whether a post has the potential or capability to generate profit also needs to be considered.
The court observed that even if no benefit has been received or taken, if a post has the potential of yielding pecuniary gain, then it would be an office of profit.
To decide if the post has the potential to yield gain, the power of appointment has to be examined, it observed.
The observations of the bench and the submissions on behalf of the MLAs came during the nearly three-hour hearing of the legislators' pleas challenging their disqualification for holding offices of profit.
Appearing for the MLAs, senior advocate Mohan Parasaran said that no pecuniary benefit was received by the lawmakers, while appointed as parliamentary secretaries, and the EC did not consider vital materials while arriving at its decision recommending their disqualification.
The high court, which had yesterday decided to hear the MLAs' appeals on a day-to-day basis, listed the matter for further arguments on February 12.
The high court had on January 24 refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying the MLAs, but restrained the Commission from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for bypolls to fill the vacancies.
The EC had recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs on January 19. The President had accepted the EC's opinion the very next day.
The 20 disqualified MLAs include Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) -- who is also a minister -- Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura).
The others are Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijendar Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).The Delhi High Court had on September 8, 2016, set aside their appointment as parliamentary secretaries on the ground that they were appointed without the concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).