“Why were the offices set up”, the Delhi High Court today asked the disqualified Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs, who claimed they had not received any monetary benefit, perks or remuneration including official vehicles, in their capacity as parliamentary secretaries. A bench comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar said if offices were set up, it means the MLAs were overlooking the administrative functions of the ministries where they were posted. “Why were offices set up for you (disqualified AAP MLAs)? What were you getting from that. Normally if you are given an office means you will come and sit. You will also use the infrastructure. You are sitting there, (which) virtually means you are overlooking the affairs and functioning of the ministry,” the bench orally observed.
The court’s observation came during the hearing of the 20 AAP legislators’ pleas challenging their disqualification for holding offices of profit. The arguments on behalf of the MLAs, which remained inconclusive, will resume February 15. During the nearly three-hour-long hearing of the legislators’ petitions, senior advocate K V Viswanathan, appearing for some of the MLAs, submitted that the Election Commission (EC) did not consider the aspect of what benefits they had derived while ruling that they held offices of profit.
The advocate said that no pecuniary benefit was received by the MLAs, while appointed as parliamentary secretaries. Yesterday, the MLAs had claimed that they were held guilty of holding office of profit by the EC without giving them an opportunity to explain their stand. “Even a temporary government employee cannot be removed on the grounds of misconduct without holding a full-fledged inquiry.
However, in the present case, the members of the legislative assembly were removed without holding a full-fledged inquiry and without giving them any opportunity to explain if they ever held any office of profit,” the MLAs had submitted. The high court had on January 24 refused to stay the Centre’s notification disqualifying the MLAs, but restrained the EC from taking any “precipitate measures” such as announcing dates for by polls to fill the vacancies.
The EC had recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs on January 19. The President had accepted the EC’s opinion the very next day. The 20 disqualified MLAs include Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) — who is also a minister — Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura). The others are Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijendar Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar). The Delhi High Court had on September 8, 2016, set aside their appointment as parliamentary secretaries on the grounds that they were appointed without the concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor.
Source: Financial Express