New Delhi [India] Jan. 19 (ANI): The petitioner in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs' office of profit case has expressed satisfaction after Election Commission of India (ECI) recommended that 20 MLAs be disqualified from the Delhi Assembly.
In a big setback for the anti-corruption party, AAP, the ECI on Friday recommended the President that 20 of its MLAs be disqualified for holding 'office of profit'.
Talking to ANI, the petitioner Prashant Patel said the AAP government flouted the rule, which says 15 percent of the total strength in the assemblies in big states and 10 percent in small states can be made ministers.
"When AAP formed government in Delhi on February 14, 2015, then 21 AAP MLAs were made parliamentary secretary on March 13, 2015, with the powers of deputy ministers. In this way, AAP government made 28 ministers instead of seven. Therefore, these appointments came under office of profit. I made a complaint with the President on June 19, 2015, against these appointments. The President forwarded my complaint to the Election Commission, which further issued notices to the 21 MLAs," Patel said.
He further added that after the MLAs filed their reply with the election body, the oral hearings in this case were completed on March 27, 2017.
"Oral hearings started from July 14, 2016, till March 27, 2017. On June 23, 2017, the ECI said that the said MLAs held position of parliamentary secretary for 17 months. Delhi's Chief Secretary told the ECI that the government spent Rs 11 lakh for allotting rooms in Delhi Assembly. The MLAs are not entitled to get rooms at the Assembly premises," Patel added.
The ECI has sent its recommendation to the President for his assent and it remains to be seen what action he takes on it. In cases where petitions are made seeking disqualification of lawmakers, the President sends a reference to the ECI which decides on the case by sending back its opinion.
In the current scenario, the petition was directed at 21 MLAs, but one has resigned.
If the president gives his assent, the disqualification of the legislators would pave the way for bye-elections in Delhi.
The MLAs' pleas that the case against them be dropped were rejected by the ECI in June 2017. (ANI)