‘Office of Profit’ case: Setback for EC as AAP MLAs get HC relief

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New Delhi, March 23: The quashing of Presidential notification disqualifying AAP MLAs by Delhi High Court comes as a huge setback for the Election Commission, which held that they were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries by violating the Constitution to “satiate the demand for executive office and oblige them with the office”.
The notification issued on January 21 on the office of profit complaint against 21 MLAs was a stinging rebuke on the AAP government, as the Election Commission opinion, which is part of the document, said it was done through “flagrant violation” of Constitution that only permits a maximum of 10% MLAs to be appointed as ministers.
“Opinion of Election Commission of India (given to the President of India) dated January 19, 2018, is vitiated and bad in law for failure to comply with principles of natural justice,” the Delhi High Court said in an appeal filed by AAP MLAs against the Presidential notification. The President had acted on the opinion, which is binding, given by the EC under A K Joti days before his retirement.
The EC did not immediately offer any comment on the judgement.
The EC had charged that 28 MLAs — seven ministers and 21 Parliamentary Secretaries — or 40% of the lawmakers were working for Delhi government at one point in time. It said the post of Parliamentary Secretaries to ministers was an office that was “never created by any law or order” of the Delhi government and its roles and responsibilities were “never spelt out in any manner”.
In such circumstances, the EC claimed in its opinion to the President, there is no doubt over the fact that such a large scale appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries had “not only jeopardised” the functioning of these individual MLAs but also the entire Assembly.
Reacting to the news, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted:
“It is a victory of truth. The elected representatives were wrongfully disqualified. The high court has given justice to the people of Delhi. It is their victory. Congratulations to the people of Delhi.” (Agencies)