A 31-year-old advocate from UP, who calls himself a “layperson interested in politics”, is the man behind AAP’s ongoing troubles with the office of profit issue. Prashant Patel had, on June 19, 2015, sent a 100-page report on the contentious appointments to the Election Commission and the President. That was 98 days after the Arvind Kejriwal government passed its order to appoint 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.
After Patel contended that these MLAs were holding an ‘office of profit’ and should be disqualified, the Delhi Assembly passed the Delhi Member of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) (Amendment Bill), 2015, excluding parliamentary secretaries from ‘office of profit’ with retrospective effect. However, the then President Pranab Mukherjee withheld the assent to the amendment bill, and referred the matter to the Election Commission.
“I did not file this petition because I am a part of any political party. I sent it as a layman. For someone interested in politics, in a city like Delhi, it is impossible to avoid it. I realised something was amiss. After doing research, I found the move to be unconstitutional and filed a plea with the President’s secretariat,” he said.
As news broke that the EC had recommendation disqualifying of the MLAs, Patel spent most of Friday afternoon fielding questions from the media. Born in UP’s Fatehpur, Patel finished his education from Saraswati Vidya Mandir in Jahanabad. He went to Allahabad University for his graduation in computer applications and physics, and did his postgraduation from Noida’s Footwear Design and Development Institute. He finished his LLB from Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Greater Noida.
His first brush with fame came in 2014. As part of the Hindu Legal Cell — an NGO of over 100 advocates across India that takes up cases for “protection of Hindu rights” — he filed a case against the film PK, alleging that it showed Hindus in poor light. Patel had also filed an intervention in the Supreme Court when JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar sought bail.
Active on social media, Patel on his website said he has been “instrumental in raising various social issues that have an impact on society”. On claims that he has links with the BJP, he said, “I am a layman; that’s how I have filed the case. These allegations are not new but the matter here is a legal one that has today been upheld…. I am a practicing advocate and I will continue with my work.”