The Election Commission Wednesday refused to make the Congress, the BJP and the Delhi government party to a petition seeking disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs for allegedly holding ‘office of profit’.
However, the EC said it will seek their assistance, if and when required, during the proceedings of the case. The next hearing in the issue will be held on August 10.
During the last hearing on July 21, petitioner Prashant Patel and AAP legislators had opposed the plea by the BJP and the Congress, saying the two parties were trying to politicise the issue. The two political parties had said they wanted to be part of the case on the grounds that it involves public interest.
The EC rejected their plea, pointing out that the hearing was initiated based on a reference received from the President’s office, which didn’t mention either the BJP or the Congress.
“The present enquiry proceedings have been initiated by the Election Commission on the basis of the reference received from the President of India… seeking the opinion of the Commission on the question of alleged disqualification of 21 sitting members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly respondents herein. This question has been raised by the petitioner in his representation dated June 19, 2015, to the President of India…Thus, the parties to the present proceedings have been determined by the said Presidential reference dated November 10, 2015,” the order said.
The AAP government had appointed 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries to assist its ministers. Subsequently, it moved an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly Act, 1957, to remove this post from the ‘office of profit’ category to prevent disqualification. Meanwhile, Patel filed a complaint with the President, based on which the EC started holding regular hearings.
The MLAs have said the posts don’t have any monetary benefits attached to them and hence don’t qualify as an office of profit. The complainant, on the other hand, claimed the MLAs were allotted office space, furniture and vehicles by the government, which amounted to benefits.