Office of profit: AAP to approach higher courts for justice

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The action of the governor assumes significance with the Election Commission recommending disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs on Friday for holding office of profit since they were appointed as parliamentary secretaries (See page 5). The poll panel takes a decision and sends its recommendation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan which is accepted.

Speaking to reporters after the party's Delhi State Conference, senior AAP leader Gopal Rai said the BJP-ruled civic bodies were trying to snatch employment opportunities from people in the name of sealing business establishments.

Later, EC and Delhi HC both rejected the MLAs' pleas to drop the "office of profit" case against them.

The BJP and Congress hence demanded that APP Chief Arvind Kejriwal should quit on "moral grounds".

On November 10, the Meghalaya High Court held invalid the state law providing for appointment of parliamentary secretaries in the state, but left it to the Governor to determine the disqualification of the post holders from the assembly.

Kovind gave his assent yesterday to the recommendation by the Election Commission (EC).

Following the court's verdict, Sumer submitted a representation to Governor Prasad for the disqualification of the legislators named in the PIL, citing that "they are no longer legislators for holding the office of profit".

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"Unfortunate that the President took the decision in such haste, without giving us any chance to speak". She said the election commission is working on its own.

During the brief hearing, Justice Rekha Palli questioned the conduct of the MLAs, and said they hadappeared before the poll panel and took shield behind the fact that their pleas were pending in the high court.

Maken, who had also moved a petition before the EC for their disqualification, also said that the Parliamentary Secretaries enjoyed all facilities of the government and he has given all the details of their expenditure.

The Commission had said that it is basing its opinion on judicial pronouncements of the past, the Government of National Capital Territory of Deli Act, and the Constitution.

The 20 legislators who have been disqualified are - Kailash Gehlot, Naresh Yadav, Som Dutt, Praveen Kumar, Nitin Tyagi, Adarsh Shastri, Sajeev Jha, Jarnail Singh, Sukhvir Singh, Madan Lal, Sarita Singh, Alka Lamba, Manoj Kumar, Avtar Singh, Vijendar Garg Vijay, Rajesh Gupta, Sharad Kumar and Shiv Charan Goel.

The petition was made to disqualify 21 MLAs, but one had resigned a few months back.

The disqualification will not put into jeopardy Kejriwal's government because of its huge majority in the Delhi assembly.