President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday had disqualified 20 MLAs of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for holding offices of profit, a move that was described as “unconstitutional” and “dangerous for democracy” by the party.
President Kovind gave his assent to the recommendation by the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday. On the President’s assent, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, said in a rally in Najafgarh, “Many obstacles come into your way when you walk on the path of truth and honesty. The path of the truth is full of obstacles but visible and invisible powers of the universe come out to help you when you walk on it. And in the end, the truth prevails.”
He indirectly targeted the BJP over disqualification of the MLAs and said, “They tried to harass us. They lodged fabricated cases on our MLAs. They even targeted me with CBI raid but found nothing. Ultimately, they disqualified our 20 MLAs.”
He took to Twitter and told his supporters to remain united and keep the faith as truth will prevail in the end.
ऊपर वाले ने 67 सीट कुछ सोच कर ही दी थी।
हर क़दम पर ऊपर वाला आम आदमी पार्टी के साथ है, नहीं तो हमारी औक़ात ही क्या थी। बस सच्चाई का मार्ग मत छोड़ना।— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 21, 2018
The Election Commission on Friday recommended to the President that the 20 MLAs were liable for disqualification for holding offices of profit between March 13, 2015 and September 8, 2016, following which President Kovind gave his acceptance on Saturday.
The MLAs were appointed parliamentary secretaries, who assist ministers with their work and this was described as them holding offices of profit by petitioner Prashant Patel. The party insisted that despite holding the office, these MLAs did not take any salaries or perks.
The Election Commission gave its opinion on the matter, and said, “Whether or not the individual Parliamentary Secretaries had actually derived the benefits or participated in executive functions of the government is of no relevance.”
The Commission had said that it is basing its opinion on judicial pronouncements of the past, the Government of National Capital Territory of Deli Act, and the Constitution.
The 20 MLAs who have been disqualified include Adarsh Shastri, Alka Lamba, Anil Bajpai, Avtar Singh, Kailash Gahlot, Madan Lal, Manoj Kumar, Naresh Yadav, Nitin Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Rajesh Gupta, Rajesh Rishi, Sanjeev Jha, Sarita Singh, Som Dutt, Sharad Kumar, Shiv Charan Goel, Sukhbir Singh, Vijendar Garg, and Jarnail Singh.
The Aam Aadmi Party had also approached the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the Commission’s recommendation and a hearing has been listed by the court for Monday. On Friday, the court had refused to pass any interim order of protection to AAP MLAs from being disqualified.
Madan Lal, one of the disqualified MLAs, said, “We are expecting relief from the court. Our petition is coming up for hearing tomorrow.” Alka Lamba, also one of the 20 MLAs to be disqualified, described the decision of the President as ‘painful’ and said that the President should have heard them out once before arriving to any conclusion.
Yashwant Sinha, former Minister of Finance and External Affairs took to Twitter and said that the decision of the President was complete miscarriage of natural justice.
President's order disqualifying the 20 AAP MLAs is complete miscarriage of natural justice. No hearing, no waiting for High Court's order. It is Tughluqshahi of the worst order.— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) January 21, 2018
The Election Commission’s decision was to disqualify 21 MLAs of the party but one had resigned a few months back.