The Delhi High Court set aside an order of the Arvind Kejriwal government appointing 21 of the party’s MLAs as parliamentary secretaries. The ruling is a jolt for the Aam Aadmi Party, which had appointed the MLAs as parliamentary secretaries on March 13, 2015. The amendment bill in this regard was passed by the Assembly in June where the AAP enjoys a majority.
In June earlier this year, President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected an amendment by the Delhi government to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, which sought to make the position of Parliamentary Secretary in the Delhi Assembly exempt from the definition of “Office of Profit.” The MLAs can potentially be disqualified if the Election Commission makes a decision in that regard.
Under Article 102(1)(a) and Article 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of Parliament or of a Legislative Assembly/Council if he holds an “Office of Profit” under the central or any state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by the Parliament or state legislature. The Delhi MLA (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997 did not include the post of Parliamentary Secretary as an “exempted post”.
Also read: Explaining the ‘office of profit’ case
The AAP government however has been of the opinion that the post of parliamentary secretary is ‘not an office of profit’ as the MLAs are not receiving any ‘pecuniary benefit.’
On Tuesday, KK Sharma, Chief Secretary in the Delhi government, appeared before the Election Commission in response to a notice by the latter, which had sought information on the 21 AAP MLAs.