In a relief for the Aam Aadmi Party, President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected a petition demanding disqualification of 11 party MLAs for allegedly holding office of profit. The October 28 decision of the president rejecting the plea is based on an opinion rendered by the Election Commission, the poll panel said.
In March 2017, a man named Vivek Garg had filed a petition before the president seeking disqualification of 11 AAP lawmakers, including Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, claiming that they were enjoying office of profit by being co-chairpersons of district disaster management authorities in 11 Delhi districts.
The issue was referred to the EC, which gave an opinion in August that holding the office of co-chairperson of a district disaster management authority does not attract disqualification as MLA since there is no remuneration by way of salary, allowances, sitting fee.
Nor is there any other facility such as staff car, office space, supporting staff, telephone or residence provided, the EC said.
As per law, the president accepts the opinion of the Election Commission in cases of office of profit.
The Commission held that "item 14 of the Schedule to Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification Act), 1997 provides for exemption for the office of chairman, director or member of a statutory or non-statutory body or committee constituted by the Government of NCT, provided that the said chairman, director or member are not entitled to any remuneration.
Reacting to the development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said ultimately the truth prevailed.
"Satyamev Jayate. Ultimately, truth prevails," he tweeted.
The petitioner had sought the disqualification of MLAs Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura), Pawan Kumar Sharma (Adarsh Nagar), Shri Dutt Sharma (Ghonda), Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Dinesh Mohania (Sangam Vihar), Amanatullah Khan (Okhla), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).
The term of the 70-member Delhi Assembly ends on February 22, 2020 and the polls can be announced in the next few weeks.