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Setback to the Arvind Kejriwal Government: High Court quashes appointment of AAP’s 21 Parliamentary Secretaries

The order, however, permitted them to use government transport for official purposes and earmarked space in the ministers' offices to help them in the official work

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Delhi High Court. Image source: Flickr
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New Delhi, Sept 08, 2016: In a setback to the Arvind Kejriwal government, the Delhi High Courton Thursday quashed the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries after the AAP government conceded that the Lt Governor’s approval was not taken in the matter.

Following the submission of the government and in light of its recent judgement giving primacy to the LG in administrative control of the capital, a bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal quashed the appointments.

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The AAP government told the Court that the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries was made without the approval of the Lieutenant Governor. TheCourtwas hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the AAP government’s decision to appoint 21 party legislators as parliamentary secretaries.

Earlier, the government had defended its decision to appoint the party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, saying the move does not amount to creation of a “public office”.

After coming to power in February 2015, the ArvindKejriwal government appointed the parliamentary secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning but made it clear that they won’t receive any remuneration or perk of any kind from the government, that is, no burden on the exchequer.

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The order, however, permitted them to use government transport for official purposes and earmarked space in the ministers’ offices to help them in the official work.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain for the Centre had said that even if you are using a driver, it is an office of profit. NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha had sought scrapping of the appointments as these were “unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction”.

The PIL said the Chief Minister had “no power, jurisdiction or authority” to administer the oath of office to parliamentary secretaries. (IANS)

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Blow for Kejriwal: EC recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

A big blow to the Aam Aadmi Party after the Election Commission recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs

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Arvind Kejriwal's party seems to be in trouble after the EC recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs. Wikimedia commons
Arvind Kejriwal's party seems to be in trouble after the EC recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs. Wikimedia Commons
  • The EC recommended disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs under the ‘office of profit’ pretext
  • AAP looks forward to approaching the Delhi High court
  • The controversy started after Prashant Patel had submitted an application to the President

The Election Commission has recommended the disqualification 20 AAP MLAs. The EC found them guilty of holding an ‘office of profit’. The recommendation has been sent to the President. If cleared, the disqualification would mean that AAP’s strength in Delhi Assembly will reduce from 67 to 47.

The 20 AAP legislators were accused of being unconstitutionally appointed as parliamentary secretaries to assist various ministers of the Delhi government. The EC’s opinion on this matter means that the AAP legislators are set to be disqualified, which could soon force a mini Assembly election in the national capital.

The party now looks forward to approach the Delhi High Court, pleading that the recommendation be struck down. Wikimedia Commons
The party now looks forward to approaching the Delhi High Court, pleading that the recommendation is struck down. Wikimedia Commons

“This is unprecedented. The MLAs in question didn’t get a chance to present their case before the EC. In fact, we didn’t hear the news from the EC, but news channels,” AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said.

ALSO READ: Anna Hazare comes out in open support about Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

Opposition parties have demanded the immediate resignation of Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister of Delhi on moral ground.

The ‘office of profit’ controversy had started after a lawyer, Prashant Patel, had filed an application in 2015 to the President’s office. It questioned the appointment of AAP MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.

The Congress had filed a petition in Election Commission in 2016 as a follow-up, based on this application. The opposition party sought disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs.

Kejriwal had appointed MLAs in March 2015 and his government passed an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, in June 2015. Wikimedia Commons

AAP had argued that this post did not qualify as an office of profit as there is no monetary benefit attached to it. But then President Pranab Mukherjee refused to give assent, following which the appointments were set aside by the Delhi High Court in September 2016, declaring them illegal since the order had been passed “without concurrence/approval of the Lt Governor”.

ALSO READ: Discontentment in the Aam Aadmi Party is resulting in Resignation and withdrawals from the party

In the first reaction to the EC recommendation, AAP spokesperson Nagendar Sharma tweeted:

Here’s the list of 20 MLAs who have been recommended to be disqualified: 

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)