BJP, Cong can’t become party to AAP MLAs case: EC

RSTV Bureau
File Photo: Aam Admi Party MLAs facing office of profit issue at Election Commission in New Delhi.

File Photo: Aam Admi Party MLAs facing office of profit issue at Election Commission in New Delhi.

The Election Commission Wednesday rejected pleas of the Congress, the BJP and the Delhi government to implead as parties to a petition in the office of profit case that seeks disqualification of 21 AAP legislators for holding the post of parliamentary secretaries.

On July 21, the Commission had reserved its order on the issue. The next hearing will now be held on August 10.

But at the same time the poll body said while it cannot allow the applicants to be joined as parties, it may seek their assistance as offered by them, if, and when, required.

Prashant Patel, who had petitioned before the Commission seeking disqualification of the MLAs, had opposed the plea of Congress and BJP of becoming a party to the case saying “they wanted to politicise the issue”.

The Delhi government too opposed the plea of intervention by the BJP and the Congress. Rakesh Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said it should be made “impleader” as the AAP dispensation will have a direct impact on the decision by the EC in the matter.

The plea of intervention of Congress and BJP was also opposed by the 21 AAP MLAs.

Congress and BJP had said that they should be allowed as parties as the issued involved public interest and money of the exchequer.

Since Patel and the 21 AAP MLAs are the parties assigned in the President’s reference to EC, the plea of Congress, BJP and Delhi government for “impleadment as parties to the present proceedings is not maintainable before the Commission,” the elaborate EC order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and fellow Commissioners O P Rawat and A K Joti said.

“The present enquiry proceedings have been initiated by the Election Commission on the basis of the reference received from the President of India…seeking the opinion of the Commission on the question of alleged disqualification of 21 sitting members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, respondents herein. This question has been raised by the petitioner in his representation dated June 19, 2015, to the President of India…Thus, the parties to the present proceedings have been determined by the said Presidential reference dated November 10, 2015,” the EC said.

Following the petition by Patel seeking their disqualification, EC had issued notices to the AAP MLAs last month.

In their response, the MLAs said there was no “pecuniary benefit” associated with the post and it comes without any remuneration or power. They had also sought personal hearing before the poll panel in their reply.

The AAP government had appointed 21 parliamentary secretaries to assist its ministers. Subsequently, the city government sought to amend the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, so as to exempt parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions in ‘office of profit’ cases.

However, the President refused to give his assent to the Bill.