Poll panel defers hearing on 21 AAP MLAs’ fate till July 21

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) The Election Commission on Thursday deferred till July 21 the hearing of 21 Aam Aadmi Party legislators’ clarification on their appointment as parliamentary secretaries by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The AAP legislators faced disqualification from the Delhi assembly on the ground that as parliamentary secretaries they were holding “office of profit” and posts which lacked constitutional provision.

The Election Commission deferred the hearing on Thursday after Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken, who also wants to be a party to the case, filed an intervening petition but failed to send its copies to the 21 concerned legislators.

“The Election Commission has asked us to send the copy of our petition to other parties in the case and the 21 MLAs would be heard on July 21 in connection with the office of profit (issue),” Maken said after coming out of the Election Commission office here.

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Congress leader Salman Khurshid is representing him in this case.

AAP lawmaker Jarnail Singh, appointed as one of the parliamentary secretaries, said: “Till now both the Congress and the BJP had said that it’s not a political matter. But today because of this petition, it is clear that it’s a political matter.”

Reacting to the development Bharatiya Janata Party Delhi unit President Satish Upadhyay said the development exposed a “connivance” between the AAP and the Congress party when the latter became a party to the case but could not complete the necessary legal formalities.

“Maken has been issuing statements for the last one month and today (Thursday) he reached the Election Commission with a contingent of big lawyers but did not complete the required legal formalities. This shows that his real intention is to provide some more time to the AAP to defend itself,” Upadhyay said.

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The Election Commission had sought the replies of the 21 AAP legislators on their appointment as parliamentary secretaries because the position lacks constitutional provisions.

The Delhi government had sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.

This Bill was aimed at exclusion of the post of parliamentary secretary from the definition of “office of profit”.

However, President Pranab Mukherjee had last month rejected the bill, leaving the fate of 21 parliamentary secretaries hanging in balance.

The 21 legislators are now facing the risk of disqualification.

Several petitions were also filed with the President, seeking disqualification of these AAP lawmakers on the ground that they occupied “office of profit” in violation of the Constitution.

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