Office of Parliamentary Secretaries: Office Profit or Loss

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Reinstated AAP MLAs

Not that the AAP government realised its sin of lashing out at the entire opposition, the Delhi High Court granted a relief to the 20 legislators of the AAP, by returning them back to the house.

The legislators were disqualified during the tenure of the CEC AK Joti, on the grounds of holding offices of profit other than Legislators, as they were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers of the Delhi Government.

The AAP challenged the order appointing the MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries, as early as 2016. Thus, the High Court did not allow the act, thereby the Delhi Government amended the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997 to exempt parliamentary secretaries from the definition of “office of profit”, however the Delhi LG, reserved it for the assent of the President which it did not receive.

The action later on, was taken up by the Election Commission, and the proceedings were held in the nature of quasi-judicial proceedings. There is mandate in law, where the beleaguering parties must be given a fair trial by providing them an opportunity of being heard, and this applies with full vigour to the proceedings of the administrative.

Thus, the Kejriwal government suffered a setback, when its 20 MLAs were arbitrarily disqualified. The appointment of MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries, is not new to Delhi. The issue gains traction because Parliamentary Secretaries are executive officers, while Legislators are a distinct cadre.

There has to be a separation of powers, but to reward the loyalists, the political parties in power, offer the posts to the MLAs , who cannot be accommodated in as Cabinet members. Thus, the posts, are used to give them powers and be able to exercise influence.

There is an anomaly in these posts, because such posts make them buffers between the Legislator and the Executive, and they loose their accountability, also they’re unable to deliver as legislators.

The action has never resulted in a mass disqualification elsewhere in India, while Delhi remains the first of such states. The incident also saw a response from the Election Commission being filed at the last minute, which was again read against the EC.

The EC also did not accord the legislators a fair hearing, thus there may be a vendetta on the part of the EC which is again the executive, which has been at loggerheads with the AAP government since a long now.

The debate today has been reverted back to the EC, to find out why the Parliamentary Secretaries shall not be exempted, though there exists very strong reasons in favour of such action, the outcomes will come down heavily on several states, including the BJP ruled states which also appoint the loyalists to such posts.

The office of Parliamentary Secretaries is primarily to be held by IAS officers, but the Legislative mischief makes it one for Legislators too.

The AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal recently apologised to the opposition leaders, including Arun Jaitley and Amit Sibal, and got  his leaders released, is a pun intended remark, though, the thought isn’t ill found.

The AAP government, a government of commoners has made every bit of effort to make the lives of people in Delhi better, ranging from electricity, water, healthcare to education.

Thus, the common man, Kejriwal deserves all kinds of negative publicity, and this one included.

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