Home >politics >policy >Prez rejects petition to disqualify AAP MLAs in office of profit case

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday dismissed a petition to disqualify 27 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members of the Delhi legislative assembly for allegedly holding offices of profit after being appointed as chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (patient welfare committees) attached to various city hospitals. The decision, based on a recommendation by the Election Commission of India (EC), comes as a moral boost to the ruling AAP government.

In an order dated 15 October, the president said the petition filed by lawyer Vibhor Anand in 2016 was “not maintainable". Members named in the case included Delhi assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel, Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba and deputy speaker Rakhi Birla.

The commission in its recommendation said that the position comes under the exempted category.

“...It is observed that the office of chairperson in Rogi Kalyan Samiti in hospitals of GNCTD (government of national capital territory of Delhi) falls under the exempted category as per item 14 of the Schedule of the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act-1997 and therefore this commission opines that the respondents are not disqualified for holding office of profit," the commission said in its opinion dated 10 July.

Senior leaders of the AAP, welcoming the order, said the commission had wasted time on a baseless complaint.

“The first thing is why did the Election Commission waste two years on a baseless complaint... One cannot understand that. They know that under Rogi Kalyan Samithi, the MLAs that were given responsibility have no connection with office of profit. At the end, our MLAs have been given relief in this case," Gopal Rai, senior AAP leader and Delhi cabinet minister said. According to an order issued by the Delhi government’s health and family welfare department on 26 April, the Rogi Kalyan Samitis are advisory in nature and assist health facilities, and develop and customise strategies among tasks. Each assembly committee is provided 3 lakh per annum as grand-in aid.

The commission is also hearing a similar office of profit case over the appointment of 20 AAP MLAs.

PTI contributed to this story.

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