Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to disqualify the MLAs in various states appointed as parliamentary secretaries and holding “office of profit”.
Mr Sisodia led a delegation of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders including Gopal Rai and Ashutosh to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday evening.
He complained to the President about the “illegally appointed” parliamentary secretaries in some states, including Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
After meeting the President, Sisodia told reporters that Chief Ministers in Haryana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh have administered oath to MLAs as chief parliamentary secretaries/parliamentary secretaries and provided them “pecuniary benefits”, which is in violation of the spirit of the Constitution.
He said that crores of rupees are being spent on these parliamentary secretaries, which is against the Constitution.
“These parliamentary secretaries are getting salaries, allotted VIP vehicles and other perks, for which ministers in these states are entitled. These parliamentary secretaries are given the rank of Deputy Minister, which implies that these MLAs hold an office of profit,” Mr Sisodia argued.
“We have complained about these illegally-appointed parliamentary secretaries in these four states. We requested the President to immediately disqualify them,” Mr Sisodia told reporters.
He further clarified that the AAP government has not provided any kind of “pecuniary benefit” to the 21 MLAs who were appointed parliamentary secretaries in Delhi.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has given Delhi’s 21 AAP legislators time till October 17 to explain why they should not be disqualified from the assembly after their appointment as parliamentary secretaries.
In the notice issued on Monday, the ECI also told petitioner Prashant Patel to submit his rejoinder to the 21 AAP lawmakers’ reply by October 21.
After coming to power in February 2015, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government appointed 21 party lawmakers as parliamentary secretaries, saying this would facilitate smooth functioning of the government but would not put any burden on the exchequer.
The Delhi High Court in September quashed the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries.
In June 2015, a major row erupted 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’ definition.