President rejects disqualification plea against AAP MLAs, but risk of disqualification is still there

Lawyer Vibhor Anand had petitioned for disqualifying 27 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit

Today President Ramnath Kovind officially dismissed a plea to disqualify 27 ruling Aam Admi Party MLAs of Delhi. The dismissal was based on an opinion given by the Election Commission (EC) in July, having “found no merit in the plea.”

In 2016, Delhi based lawyer Vibhor Anand had discovered that several AAP MLAs were appointed as Chairpersons of RKS -Rogi Kalyan Samitis (Patient Welfare Committees) of various government hospitals in Delhi. Since these posts were not exempted via any notification by the GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi), Anand found them to be instances of holding an office of profit.

He then made a list of 27 such MLAs and filed a complaint with the Election Commission, asserting that rules allowed an MLA only to be a member of the governing committee and not a Chairperson, alleging that the appointment of the MLAs as Chairpersons of RKSs itself was, thereby, illegal.

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On further investigation, he found that there were not just 27, but 37 MLAs who were appointed Chairpersons in RKSs were also involved in corruption. He then planned to file a PIL in the Delhi High Court soon seeking action against them.

Such pleas are usually sent to the President, who then forwards it to the EC which studies the matter further and forwards it back to the President for his final orders.

There is another case of disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs on allegations of holding ‘office of profit’, and 14 MLAs are common in both the cases. In January this year, these 20 MLAs were disqualified on the recommendation of EC. The party had moved Delhi High Court challenging this order, and in March the court had stayed aside the disqualification on procedural grounds, thereby restoring the membership of those 20 MLAs.

President Ramnath Kovind’s decision regarding this case today was made in accordance with an order issued by the Delhi government’s health and family welfare department on April 26, claiming that the ‘Rogi Kalyan Samitis’ are merely advisory in nature since they are involved in assisting health facilities, developing and customising health strategies.

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