NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) will hold a personal hearing from July 14 for 21 Aam Aadmi Party legilsatros, who have been made parliamentary secretaries and are facing the risk of disqualification from the assembly, in the office of profit case.
The 21 AAP MLAs had sought a personal hearing before the poll body in their reply to a notice by the Election Commission of India last month. The petition for their disqualification was made over their appointment as parliamentary secretaries, by lawyer Prashant Patel.
“You are hereby called up to appear in person or and through a duly appointed lawyer before the ECI on July 14 at 3 pm. Now travelling allowance or duly allowance will be paid to you or your counsel for journey, if any performed by you or your counsel in this connection,” Anuj Jaipuriar, secretary to the ECI said in the notices sent to 21 AAP MLAs.
“Whereas the Commission issued notice dated March 16, 2016 to the respondent for filling written statement in reply to the allegations contained in the said petition.”
“Whereas a question has been raised before the President of India in terms of section 15 (3) of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act 1991 in the petition dated June 19, 2014/2015 filed by the petitioner above named alleging that you have become subject to the disqualification”, the notice said.
Maintaining that there was no “pecuniary benefit” associated with the post, the MLAs, in their response to the poll body, also said that that parliamentary secretary is a ‘post’ without any remuneration or power. AAP had appointed 21 parliamentary secretaries to assist the Delhi government ministers.
Thereafter, the government sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.
Through the Bill, which has been forwarded to the Centre by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, AAP wants "retrospective" exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions.
The ECI, which is examining the issue, has taken "cognisance" of the President's decision against signing a Delhi government's bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the ambit office of profit. With the President refusing assent to the bill early this month, the 21 ruling party MLAs at present have no legal backing for holding the post of parliamentary secretaries.
In 2015, the AAP government had appointed the 21 Parliamentary Secretaries to the six council of ministers. In his order, then Principal Secretary (General Administration Department) Anindo Majumdar had said : “ The Parliamentary Secretaries will not be eligible for any remuneration or any perks of any kind from the government. However, they may use government transport for official purposes only and office space in the Ministers space would be provided to them to facilitate their work.”
After President of India’s decision to withheld the Office of Profit Bill passed by Delhi Assembly, the AAP MLAs under the EC scanner are Sharad Kumar, Sanjeev Jha, Sukhvir Singh, Rajesh Gupta, Som Dutt, Alka Lamba, Shiv Charan Goel, Jarnail Singh of Tilak Nagar, Jarail Singh of Rajhouri Garden, Rajesh Rishi, Adarsh Shastri, Kailash Gahlot, Vijender Garg, Praveen Kumar, Madan Lal, Naresh Yadav, Avtar Singh, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi, Anil Kumar Bajpai and Sarita Singh.