MUMBAI: 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.
Even President Ram Nath Kovind took cognizance and stamped his approval to the Election Commission of India (ECI)'s recommendations, the Sena said in a strong edit in the party mouthpieces, 'Saamana' and 'Dopahar Ka Saamana'.
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.
It pointed to the ongoing war between the Delhi Chief Minister and Delhi Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, in which the latter doesn't miss "a single opportunity" to create obstacles for Kejriwal and the AAP government.
"Instead of Kejriwal, if there was a Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister, would the Lt. Governor have dared to behave in such a fashion, or recommend to the EC to shunt 20 legislators home without giving them any opportunity to defend themselves. More than the Centre, the Lt. Governor appears to work like a BJP agent," the Sena commented sharply.
The recent developments have raised a new debate on "what exactly is the meaning of 'office of profit' held by an elected representative since this incident is the first of its kind in the country", it said.
According to the Constitution's Section 102(1), it is illegal for an elected peoples' representative to accept any other post which is paid for by the government, since as MPs or MLAs they are already getting remuneration.
"The charge against the 20 AAP legislators is that they accepted another office of profit - of 'Parliamentary Secretary' - and hence forfeited their posts as elected peoples' representatives," the Sena said.
The AAP was elected with 66 members in the 70-member Delhi legislature and there was a huge pressure on Kejriwal for ministerial berths, so many were offered the carrots of Parliamentary Secretary.
In the sparring over the 'office of profit' issue, the AAP and other political parties have accused the ECI of political vendetta and haste in its action of recommending their disqualification, said the Sena.
"It is alleged that the ECI has been used as a political weapon to disqualify the 20 AAP legislators. This has raised questions on the credibility of the ECI," the Sena concluded.