The 21 parliamentary secretaries, who filed their replies to the Election Commission (EC) stating they have not availed any benefit from the government, told the commission that it does not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The EC had issued a showcause notice to 21 AAP MLAs, asking why they should not be disqualified for allegedly holding two offices of profit.
One of the MLA’s, in his reply, said, “The EC has no jurisdiction to decide and adjudicate the reference made by the President… The commission has no jurisdiction to give any opinion on the merits of the matter… The respondent reserves his rights to challenge the issuance of the notice.”
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It added, “Respondent is submitting to the jurisdiction of the commission purely in spirit of transparency and upholding sound democratic principles… The respondent has not used government office or transport facility by virtue of being a parliamentary secretary, even though the office order allows use of government vehicle and office… Use of transport or office space does not amount to profit,” stated the reply.
The 50-page affidavit submitted to the EC stated, “It is reiterated that the respondents have not used any office space or transport facility. Even if they had used them — as allowed in an impugned order — the same would not amount to office of profit.”
In its letter to the secretaries, the EC had also directed them to file sworn affidavits when it asked them to submit their replies by May 10.
The parliamentary secretaries have been in the dock for “holding dual offices of profit” and are at risk of being disqualified. AAP advocate Hrishikesh Kumar said the post of parliamentary secretary does not fall within the purview of office of profit. He added that the parliamentary secretaries never availed any pecuniary benefit, office space or transport allowance.
Last year, the Delhi government had appointed the 21 MLAs as secretaries to ministers.