The Election Commission of India is preparing to call 21 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for a hearing on allegations of occupying offices of profit in violation of the Constitution.Highly placed officials in the Election Commission said that the hearing may happen soon since the President rejected amendment to the bill passed by the Delhi assembly seeking to exempt MLAs appointed as parliamentary secretaries from the purview of office of profit criteria.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apparently, aware of the gravity of the situation, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal attacked Prime Minister Modi saying that “Modiji is panicking over the good work that is being done in Delhi.”“One MLAs had be(en) dedicated to electricity, one to water, one to hospitals and one to schools. Modi ji says, ‘I will not work, neither will I let you work’,” tweeted Kejriwal.But this is mere rhetoric and will not work as the law is clear, said the officials adding that the President’s refusal to give assent to an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997 has almost prepared the ground for the 21 MLAs to lose membership of Delhi legislature.“If the EC holds 21 MLAs as disqualified then the Delhi is headed for mini elections for 21 seats,” said an official.Through the amendment in the Bill, the AAP government wanted exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions from retrospective effect.The EC, in March this year, in its capacity as the quasi-judicial body, had issued a show-cause notice to AAP legislators who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries by the Delhi government last year.The notice, issued on the basis of a petition filed to the President of India by Delhi-based advocate Prashant Patel, sought MLAs’ response on why they should not be disqualified. The petitioner Patel had alleged that the 21 MLAs occupied offices of profit in violation of the Constitution of India.Calling it a desperate move of Modi government to weaken the Delhi government, AAP is contemplating taking a legal route to get over the crisis.AAP legislator Alka Lamba – also one of the 21 parliamentary secretaries – said every detail has been furnished to the Election Commission, including a detailed reply from the general administration department of the Delhi government stating that no emoluments have been used by the 21 parliamentary secretaries.“It will be long drawn process. Each of us will have to give a hearing to the EC. But if it acts under pressure from the Modi government, we always have the option to take a legal route,” Lamba told dna.“We have not received a single emolument. Even for our office space, we could use a room in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha with the permission of the speaker. That never meant we have been allotted an office space separately. For all the work allotted to us, we used our private vehicles,” she said, adding that the concept of office of profit is not very clear in the Constitution.“Even in other states and the erstwhile Congress government in Delhi, there have been parliamentary secretaries like Mukesh Sharma and Prahlad Singh Sawhney,” Lamba added.Defending his case, Mukesh Sharma said that though he was a parliamentary secretary, his appointment was done by CM through an office order. “We were like the extension of the CM office. We were parliamentary secretaries to the CM. For the AAP parliamentary secretaries were to different ministers in the cabinet,” he said.Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said a Supreme Court judgment had stated if a person appointed is entitled to certain emoluments, it will be considered an office of profit, even if the holder of the office chooses not to receive or draw such emoluments.“So, whether these 21 parliamentary secretaries were drawing emoluments or not, they were clearly holding an office of profit,” he said.BJP MP from Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi demanded disqualification of the MLAs and called Kejriwal “newage Tughlaq” for defending his decision to appoint them to the posts without following rules.“This is an open and shut case. The EC must take a final call on the disqualification issue at the earliest. The appointment of 21 Parliament Secretaries is illegal as the prescribed limit for such an appointment in Delhi is only one,” she said.
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