New Delhi: The 21 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators, who were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries, on Monday sought four more weeks’ time to file their replies before the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the “office of profit” case.
The Election Commission last week gave these 21 legislators time till October 17 (Monday) to explain why they should not be disqualified from the assembly after their appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries as the post was deemed to be Office of Profit.
In the notice, the ECI had also told petitioner Prashant Patel to submit his rejoinder to the 21 AAP lawmakers’ reply by October 21.
“We have demanded four weeks’ time from the commission to file our replies as our advocates are out of station and all our files are with them,” AAP lawmaker Madan Lal, who was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Vigilance, told IANS.
Petitioner Prashant Patel reiterated: “No reply was filed by 21 AAP MLAs in the office of profit case today (Monday) in the Commission.”
The AAP legislators had earlier written to the Election Commission requesting for more time to file their replies, following which the extension till October 17 was given.
After coming to power in February 2015, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government appointed 21 party lawmakers as Parliamentary Secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning of the government but would not cause any burden on the exchequer.
The Delhi High Court in September quashed these appointments of 21 Parliamentary Secretaries.
In June 2015, a major row was sparked off on the issue of “Office of Profit” after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the Delhi government’s bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the “Office of Profit” definition.
The Delhi government sought through a bill to amend the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, so as to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the definition of “Office of Profit”.
The AAP has maintained that none of the Parliamentary Secretaries was given “pecuniary benefits” and the appointment of the party legislators as Parliamentary Secretaries did not amount to creation of a “public office”.