Jolt to AAP govt. as Pranab says ‘no’ to Delhi Bill

21 AAP MLAs, who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries, face the prospect of disqualification.

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:54 pm IST

Published - June 13, 2016 09:27 pm IST - New Delhi

A file photo of Arvind Kejriwal

A file photo of Arvind Kejriwal

President Pranab Mukherjee has refused to give his assent to proposed legislation that sought to protect, with retrospective effect, 21 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs from disqualification for occupying additional posts deemed unconstitutional, given their status as elected representatives.

Different petitions had been filed with the President seeking the disqualification of these MLAs, appointed Parliamentary Secretaries by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on May 20 last year, on the ground that they occupied offices of profit and were being extended benefits over and above those allowed by the Representation of the People Act, 1951. According to the order, yet to be communicated to the Delhi government, the 21 MLAs must now demit the office of Parliamentary Secretary. This even as the Delhi government maintained that the refusal of the President’s assent did not have any effect on their membership of the Delhi Assembly.

The government said it would not budge from its position, and planned to reintroduce the Bill sooner rather than later.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to express regret at the decision questioning its validity as the government had not, he argued, extended any pecuniary benefits to the 21 MLAs in question.

A source in the Ministry of Home Affairs, privy to developments, told The Hindu that the President refused his assent to the amendments sought by the Delhi government to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997 as per the Ministry’s advice.

The Ministry had referred the Bill for legal opinion to the Attorney-General who, a fortnight ago, said an elected representative cannot hold an office of profit; this was then forwarded to Rashtrapati Bhavan with the Ministry giving its recommendation that the Bill may not be accorded assent.

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