In a massive blow to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the recommendation of Election Commission to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs in connection with the ‘office of profit’ case.
The latest development comes two days after the Election Commission had found 20 AAP legislators guilty of holding ‘office of profit’ by being parliamentary secretaries to Delhi ministers. As per the law, the President was bound by the EC’s view on matters of office of profit and, therefore, the disqualification of the MLAs was inevitable.
A notification issued by the law ministry quoted the president as saying that in the light of the opinion expressed by the EC, the 20 members of the Delhi legislative assembly have been disqualified.
“…Having considered the matter in the light of the opinion expressed by the Election Commission, I, Ram Nath Kovind, president of India, in exercise of the powers…do here hold that the aforesaid 20 members of the Delhi legislative assembly stand disqualified from being members of the said assembly,” the notification said. READ | Office of profit: What & the why
On Saturday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said the 20 AAP MLAs would appeal to the President to hear the party’s views, against the “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” move.
With the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs, the threat for the Kejriwal-led party is not immediate as their majority will reduce to 46 from 66 MLAs–still in a comfortable majority. CM Kejriwal held a meeting yesterday with the 20 MLAs along with senior party members in order to chalk out the party’s strategy.
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According to sources, Kejriwal’s message to the MLAs was to “prepare for bypolls” and guard against “attempts at poaching”, including from within. All the affected AAP MLAs had moved the Delhi High Court challenging the EC’s recommendation but Justice Rekha Palli had refused to pass any interim order.
Reacting to the development, Delhi Minister Gopal Rai said, “We had hoped to go to the President asking him to give us a chance to present ourselves. Now we received this news. AAP will knock the doors of HC and even SC if the need be.”
Alka Lamba, one of the 20 disqualified AAP legislators, said her party’s was considering legal options. “Unfortunate that the President took the decision in such haste, without giving us chance to speak. It’s an act of Centre using constitutional institutions. We’ve trust on judiciary. Doors of HC & SC is open for us,” she said.
An office of profit bars MPs and MLAs from accepting government positions that carry some financial remuneration or pecuniary gain. Any violation of this provision amounts to disqualification of the legislator.
Following is the list of AAP MLAs who have been disqualified for holding ‘office of profit’:
1. Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli)
2. Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar)
3. Praveen Kumar (Jangpura)
4. Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar)
5. Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka)
6. Sanjeev Jha (Burari)
7. Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar)
8. Sukhvir Singh (Mundka)
9. Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar)
10. Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar)
11. Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk)
12. Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri)
13. Anil Kumar Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar)
14. Manoj Kumar (Kondli)
15. Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh)
16. Avtar Singh (Kalkaji)
17. Vijendar Garg Vijay (Rajinder Nagar)
18. Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur)
19. Sharad Kumar (Narela)
20. Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar)
With inputs from Agencies