EC rejects pleas of 21 AAP MLAs in office of profit case

In another development that could bring more trouble for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led government in Delhi, the Election Commission (EC) has rejected 21 MLAs plea to drop “Office of Profit” case against them. “EC’s verdict that the 21 AAP MLAs did occupy office of profit”, Sambit Patra, a BJP leader and spokesperson tweeted.The petitioner maintained that the court order should have no bearing on the case being heard by the EC as the MLAs were “enjoying the fruits” of those offices till their appointments were set aside by the high court.The poll panel in March reserved its order on the plea of the AAP MLAs that it should drop the case of office of profit against them as their appointment as parliamentary secretaries has already been set aside by the Delhi High Court.Since the AAP MLAs held de facto posts of Parliamentary Secretaries from March 13, 2015, to September 8, 2016, the proceedings on the question of their disqualification will continue, the EC said in its order on Friday.”Therefore there was no question of hearing a petition for the office which never existed”, Bharadwaj said.”However, the EC has ruled that it would still hear the petition”.The amendment exempted the post of parliamentary secretary from the definition of office of profit with retrospective effect.The case against one of the 21 MLAs, Jarnail Singh of Rajouri Garden, would no longer carry on as he resigned from the Delhi Assembly in January to contest the Punjab elections. The order comes before the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi demits his office in July. Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat did not sign the order since he had recused himself from the case when accused of impartiality. BJP and Congress have demanded resignation of all on “moral grounds”. “We challenge them to face the Delhi electorate again”, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken told the media here. Separately, reacting to another private petition, the Delhi high court struck down the posts of parliament secretary in September, 2015.The controversy dates back to the weeks after the party won a majority in the Delhi assembly elections and appointed 21 lawmakers as parliament secretaries in March, 2015.However, President Pranab Mukherjee refused to give his assent to it.