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EXPLAINED: AAP's 21-MLA headache

June 15, 2016 11:28 IST

On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister was locked in a war of words with the Centre and the prime minister after the President rejected an amendment by the Delhi government to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.

In face of this confrontation, membership of 21 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs may be cancelled, dealing a huge blow to the Delhi chief minister.

Rediff.com explains how things came to this pass.

1) What is the latest confrontation with the Centre?

On Monday, the President rejected an amendment by the Delhi government to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, which sought to make the position of Parliamentary Secretary in the Delhi Assembly exempt from the definition of “Office of Profit”. On March 13, 2015, Kejriwal had passed an order appointing the 21 party MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries.

However, a complaint was filed to the President seeking disqualification of these 21 MLAs for holding an Office of Profit.

Now that the President has rejected the bill, the 21 AAP MLAs can potentially be disqualified should the Election Commission of India so decide.

2) Why do these MLAs face the risk of being disqualified?

According to the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of Parliament or of a Legislative Assembly/Council if he holds an “Office of Profit” under the central or any state government.

3) If the law is so clear, why is the AAP government fighting over it?

The AAP’s argument is that the post of Parliamentary Secretary is “not an Office of Profit” as the MLAs are not receiving any financial benefit.

4) So what happens now?

Now, the Election Commission of India has to basically decide whether the terms and conditions of appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries constitutes an “Office of Profit.” The AAP government has claimed that the 21 Parliamentary Secretaries are not getting any salaries or perks for their work, and are “working for free”. 

Though, the AAP government cannot contest the President’s decision, it can approach the court if the EC decides to disqualify the MLAs.

The Rediff News Bureau / Rediff.com
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