In a huge setback for the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the expulsion of 20 MLAs from the party in the ‘office of profit’ case.
The Election Commission had made a recommendation against the lawmakers.
PTI quoted a notification issued by the law ministry as saying, “Having considered the matter in the light of the opinion expressed by the Election Commission, I, Ram Nath Kovind, president of India, in exercise of the powers…do here hold that the aforesaid 20 members of the Delhi legislative assembly stand disqualified from being members of the said assembly.”
While the MLAs have moved the Delhi High Court, no interim order was passed over it.
The 20 AAP MLAs were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries on March 13, 2015 and their appointment was described as them holding offices of profit by a petitioner.
AAP leaders have refuted the allegations and termed it a witch-hunt.
Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia was quoted by News18 as saying, “They were appointed to help the government as it was working on Mohalla Clinics, skill centres, unauthorised colonies development and trader-friendly VAT scheme. They used to travel on their own expense. They were not paid even a single paisa as salary or facilities like office and bungalow.”
The Election Commission has not commented on the issue saying it was sub-judice.
While the disqualification of its MLAs does put the AAP government in a tough spot, it is not under immediate threat. It will still have comfortable majority even though the number of MLAs in the 70-seat assembly will reduce from 66 to 46.