NewDelhi: As per the media reports 21 MLA's of Delhi Aam Adami Party (AAP) who are now under investigation for allegedly holding "office of profit" as the Election Commission of India (ECI) here on Saturday refused to dismiss the cases against them.
The commission said it did not find anything in the Delhi High Court order, dated September 8, 2016, that said it set aside not only the appointments of the MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, but also the creation of those posts.
Subsequently, the proceedings were dropped against Jarnail Singh after he resigned as the Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls. The office of profit petition was filed against 21 AAP MLAs.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj on Saturday said the party respects the High Court's and Election Commission's orders, adding that all options are available (to the party) to challenge this EC order.
Therefore "there was no question of hearing a petition for the office which never existed" Bhardwaj said on the willingness of the poll panel to still continue hearing on the petition in the case.
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The EC hold the opinion that the respondents did de facto hold the office of parliamentary secretaries from 13th March 2015 to 8th September 2016 and the interpretation as sought to be put by them on the order of the Hon'ble Delhi High Court that they did not hold office of profit is legally untenable.
"The EC's order should not be misinterpreted".
In 2015, the AAP government passed an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, to exempt the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the definition of office of profit with retrospective effect.
The BJP hoped that the EC would pronounce its final verdict on the issue very soon because the case had been pending for 14 months. If the EC recommends their disqualification, a mini-election would be forced upon Delhi. The report further says that Election Commissioner OP Rawat, who was questioned by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over impartiality, has not signed on the order.
The Election Commission, in its 23-page order, said it was not in dispute that the respondents (legislators) were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries in the Delhi government by an order of March 13, 2015. The court had said the order to appoint them as parliamentary secretaries was given without the concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor.
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