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The Delhi High Court quashed the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries even as the counsel for AAP government said the verdict “may help get relief” for the party MLAs in the office of profit case before the Election Commission.
Following the submission of the government counsel and in light of its recent judgement giving primacy to the LG in administrative control of the capital, a bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal quashed the appointments.
In his reaction to the court order, Sudhir Nandrajog, who appeared during Thursday’s hearing, told IANS: “The court order may help to get relief for the 21 MLAs in the office of profit issue now pending before the Election Commission”
“The court quashed the appointments in the absence of Lt. Governor’s nod, and in view of this the very appointment itself of the parliamentary secretaries was void since day one. Hence if the appointment order is a void order then the question of office of profit issue does not arise,” he said.
During the court hearing, the AAP government counsel conceded in the court that the Lt Governor’s approval was not taken in the matter.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO ‘Mukti Morcha’ challenging the AAP government’s decision to appoint party legislators as parliamentary secretaries.
Nagendar Sharma, media advisor to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, said: “After today’s (Thursday) High Court order there is no Parliamentary Secretary in Delhi.”
Sharma said they will not move the Supreme Court over the issue. “Why should we go to Supreme Court?,” he asked.
The BJP and Congress welcomed the court order saying it was an vindication of the charges against the AAP.
“Today’s judgement will be seen as a confirmation of the charges of anarchic behaviour by Kejriwal,” Delhi unit chief of BJP Satish Upadhyay told reporters.
“Whatever Kejriwal government has done in the case of parliamentary secretaries is a criminal conspiracy and we had apprised the Election Commission about it,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi assembly Vijender Gupta also said that the party leaders will meet the Election Commission and hand over a copy of the High Court judgment and request the panel to announce its decision in the case seeking disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs.
Congress spokesman Ajoy Kumar said, “All the 21 MLAs of the AAP should be disqualified”.
“What AAP has done by appointing 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries is completely illegal and unconstitutional,” Kumar told IANS.
AAP spokesman Dilip Pandey also said following the court order there is no parliamentary secretary in Delhi now.
But with regard to the verdict and whether it can help get relief to the legislators, Pandey said: “This will technically depend on the Election Commissison’s conscience.”
After coming to power in February 2015, the Arvind Kejriwal government appointed the parliamentary secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning but would not be any burden on the exchequer.
In June this year, 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.
The Delhi Government had sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.
Earlier, the city government had taken the line that appointment of the party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries does not amount to creation of a “public office”.
On Thursday, AAP maintained that none of the parliamentary secretaries was given pecuniary benefits.