New Delhi: With Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) coming to grips with the political drubbing it suffered in the corporation polls, it also has a pending verdict in an office of profit case to worry about.
The pending verdict by the Election Commission (EC) in the office of profit case has the power to dissolve Delhi assembly in one go.
"The verdict, when delivered, could necessitate a fresh round of elections this year," said 29-year-old Prashant Patel, who had petitioned the President of India in 2015 against AAP, stating that Kejriwal had appointed 21 of its MLAs as parliamentary secretaries and that was not only a violation of the Constitution of India and the NCT Act but also raised pertinent questions on the level of corruption in the AAP government.
[blurb]The government of Delhi had appointed 21 AAP MLAs as parliamentary secretaries in March 2015 and then in June passed an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, to exempt the post of parliamentary secretary from the definition of office of profit with retrospective effect.[/blurb]
After the President rejected the Bill, the Delhi High Court set aside such appointments made by the state. Post that, the EC started hearing the matter to decide whether the MLAs were to be disqualified. The hearing concluded on March 27 this year, and now the ruling has been reserved.
"EC will soon announce the verdict and the ruling is expected to be in the month of May. The MLAs had stated before the EC that when HC had set their appointments aside, there were no posts remaining and hence there was no office of profit too. This is why the arguments took time" said Patel.
He added that Kejriwal's recent comments on the Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat and Achal K Jyoti had only fuelled a delay in the verdict.
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But Patel spoke of Kejriwal's recent statements which had made one of the election commissioners recuse from the case and how his own MLAs were going against the CM and persuaded the EC to conclude the hearing without the commissioner recusing from the hearing.
"Just when the ruling was due, CM Kejriwal started making baseless allegations against the EC bench, comprising Election Commissioners Om Prakash Rawat, Achal K Jyoti and Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, that was hearing his case. Kejriwal said Election commissioners Rawat and Jyoti were acting on behalf of the Modi government and the verdict would be pronounced against AAP. After this, Rawat has recused himself from the case, thus causing further delay in the verdict," said Patel.
[blurb]Prashant also cited a letter, which he claimed had been reportedly written by all the 20 AAP MLAs (after Jarnail Singh resigned from the party) to the EC post the statements made by Kejriwal. The letter, he added, only "highlighted the kind of infighting that existed in the party."[/blurb]
"The letter says that they did not endorse the statements put forth by Arvind Kejriwal and that EC and the hearings must be concluded in the case," said Patel.
However, AAP Spokesperson Raghav Chadha completely refuted the existence of any such letter.
"This is complete hearsay. If he has the letter, or a copy to it, then he must produce it. Unless we have the letter in hand, we cannot comment on it," said Chadha.
Chadha also said that the hearing was certainly not over on March 27 and that the Election Commission had concluded hearing "only on a certain point of law."
"There is no question of ruling in May when the hearing is still not over," said Chadha.
"The chief secretary of Delhi has filed a detailed 2000-page reply where he has explained how each parliamentary secretary was working. They were attending cabinet meetings, taking executive decisions and new rooms were built in the Delhi secretariat for them. The government spent around Rs 4 lakh for this and Rs 13 crore had been spent for parliamentary secretary rooms at the Delhi Vidhan Sabha. This data was given by the secretary himself. In addition to this, they were also drawing monetary benefits," said Patel, refuting claims by the Delhi CM that there were no monetary benefits attached to the post.
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