New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) The Election Commission of India (ECI) has given Delhi’s 21 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators time till October 17 to explain why they should not be disqualified from the assembly after their appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries.
The 21 lawmakers have faced disqualification from the Delhi assembly for allegedly holding ‘office of profit’ as Parliamentary Secretaries.
In the notice issued on Monday, the ECI also told petitioner Prashant Patel to submit his rejoinder to the 21 AAP lawmakers’ reply by October 21.
The AAP legislators had earlier written to the Election Commission requesting for more time to file their replies, following which the extension till October 17 has been given.
“It may be noted that if no reply is received by the aforesaid date, it will be presumed that you have nothing to say in this matter and the Commission will take appropriate action without any further reference to you,” the notice said.
After coming to power in February 2015, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government appointed 21 party lawmakers as the Parliamentary Secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning of the government but would not cause any burden on the exchequer.
The Delhi High Court in September quashed the appointment of 21 Parliamentary Secretaries.
In June 2015, a major row was sparked off on the issue of ‘Office of Profit’ after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the Delhi government’s bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the ‘Office of Profit’ definition.
The Delhi government sought through the bill an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, so as to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the definition of ‘Office of Profit’.
The AAP has maintained that none of the Parliamentary Secretaries was given “pecuniary benefits” and the appointment of the party legislators as Parliamentary Secretaries did not amount to creation of a “public office”.