New Delhi, September 9: In another shock to Aam Aadmi Party, its 21 MLA’s were removed as parliamentary secretaries by Delhi high Court. The decision came from the court on the grounds that the MLA were elected as parliamentary secretaries the lieutenant governor (L-G)’s approval.
The court’s decision came after the Delhi government conceded that its appointment became invalid in light of the August 4 verdict of the Delhi high court that gave the L-G administrative control of the capital.
Chief justice G Rohini and justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO, Rashtriya Mukti Morcha, that sought scrapping of the appointments, claiming it was unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction.
President Pranab Mukherjee in June refused to sign a bill that allowed the 21 AAP MLAs to hold a second paying position as parliamentary secretary, leaving their fate hanging in balance. The Election Commission had summoned the legislators to clarify their position on 14 July.
“The AAP had earlier defended its decision in high court, saying the move does not amount to creation of a public office. The provision of parliamentary secretary is merely to assist the minister in connection with the public and the rest of the assembly and ensuring a harmonious functioning," it had said in an affidavit.
However, a Constitutional clause prohibits legislators or parliamentarians from holding any position with monetary or other benefits. Known as office of profit, the clause is aimed at reducing conflict-of-interest situations for public representatives.
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 court decision came on a day Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal arrived in Ludhiana to a mass of disgruntled AAP volunteers who alleged party tickets had been given to corrupt workers.