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Office of profit axe falls on 20  AAP legislators

In a massive blow to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Election Commission of India has recommended that 20 legislators of his Aam Aadmi Party be disqualified for holding offices of profit as

Published: 20th January 2018 01:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2018 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: In a massive blow to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Election Commission of India has recommended that 20 legislators of his Aam Aadmi Party be disqualified for holding offices of profit as parliamentary secretaries to various ministers. The AAP immediately approached the Delhi High Court but didn’t get any interim relief. The court will again hear the matter on Monday.

The missive to President Ramnath Kovind came a few days before Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti is due to retire. In its recommendation, 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.

In the High Court, Justice Rekha Palli asked the EC counsel to confirm whether any such recommendation had been made to the President. The counsel sought time to do so as he was “unable to contact the poll panel due to the late hour”.

Once President Kovind approves the recommendation, by-elections will have to be held for the 20 Assembly seats. While the disqualification will not endanger the Kejriwal government, its strength in the 70-member House will come down to 45. With the bypolls appearing imminent, the bypolls would be more like a mini-Assembly election and could decide the future course of Delhi politics as the Union Territory is anyway due to go to polls in 2020.

Both Congress and BJP welcomed the recommendation while AAP was furious. Attacking the CEC, AAP’s Saurabh Bharadwaj alleged he was repaying his debt to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

what is an office of profit?

It a position that brings to the person holding it some financial gain or advantage. It may be an office or place of profit if it carries some remuneration or financial advantage. The amount of profit is immaterial. According to Article 102 (1)(A) of the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified “if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder”

jaya bachchan, sonia took the big hits
Jaya was disqualified as RS MP as she was also chairperson of UP Film Development Council. Sonia Gandhi quit Rae Bareilly seat after her heading the National Advisory Council in UPA I was questioned. Later Parliament amended law to put NAC chief on exemption list

why is AAP in the dock?
In 2015, Kejriwal appointed 21 legislators as parliament secretaries to ministers. A petition was filed before President Pranab Mukherjee saying it was illegal. Pranab sent it to EC. Next year, Cong petitioned EC to disqualify all 21

HC stand
In 2016, Delhi High Court had set aside the appointments saying its L-G had not cleared them. One of the 21 quit last year to contest the Punjab polls

Workaround
Delhi House passed Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disquali-fication) Amendment Bill, 2015, but Pranab Mukherjee sent it back without
clearing it

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