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Office of profit row: Hear our side, AAP urges President, seeks meeting

The 20 MLAs also met Kejriwal on Saturday to discuss future strategy. If the president approves the EC’s recommendation, the legislators have decided to file a writ petition in the HC as their ongoing case would be held infructuous.

delhi Updated: Jan 20, 2018 23:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aam Aadmi Party‬,‪Arvind Kejriwal‬,Office of profit
Manish Sisodia addressing the media at Delhi CM’s residence on Saturday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

The Aam Aadmi Party sought on Saturday a meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him to hear its side before deciding on whether to expel 20 of its legislators for holding offices of profit.

The party also lashed out at the Election Commission (EC) for the second consecutive day, calling its move to recommend the disqualifications to the President ‘biased’, and said that the panel had promised to hold a hearing that never took place.

Holding up a purported order from the commission on June 23, 2017, Delhi AAP chief Gopal Rai told a press conference: “The order said that the date of hearing for the MLAs will be communicated. But, none of the legislators received any letter or notice”.

An official aware of the developments said President Kovind was in the process of sending the EC recommendation to the Union home ministry for advice. A senior home ministry official said there was no communication from the Rashtrapati Bhawan till Saturday evening. Both officials asked not to be identified.

Kovind is expected to be in Gujarat Sunday and Monday for official functions.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia reiterated the party’s defence that the MLAs did not get any salary or perks, unlike what is offered to parliamentary secretaries in other states.

“Our MLAs did not get even Rs 1 salary. They in fact paid from their own pockets for travelling to monitor works in different departments,” Sisodia said on the sidelines of a meeting convened on the matter by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Reports have pointed out since Friday that the Supreme Court has previously scrapped posts similar to the ones held by the AAP MLAs. In 2017, a three-judge bench of the top court struck down the Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 2004 and said that Article 194 of the Constitution does not authorise state legislatures to create offices of parliamentary secretaries.

The 20 MLAs also met Kejriwal on Saturday to discuss future strategy. If the president approves the EC’s recommendation, the legislators have decided to file a writ petition in the HC as their ongoing case would be held infructuous.

If they are disqualified, Delhi will face a by-election in 20 constituencies. “This time if elections happen, BJP candidates will lose their deposit. AAP will certainly have a sweeping victory,” Sisodia said, confident of the party’s readiness for elections.

In the press conference, Delhi AAP chief Rai singled out Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti, who is to retire on Sunday, in his criticism of the poll panel.

Joti did not respond to calls and text messages seeking a reaction on the AAP’s allegations that he deliberately took a decision in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 23:21 IST