President Kovind Dismisses Petition To Disqualify 27 AAP MLAs In Office Of Profit Case
President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday, October 25, dismissed the petition to disqualify 27 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Delhi MLAs for allegedly holding offices of profit. The President’s decision follows a recommendation for the same by the Election Commission earlier this year.
The petition was filed with the Election commission by one Vibhor Anand, a law student, in June of 2016. The argument by the petitioner was that it was acceptable to have the MLAs as members of the Rogi Kalyan Samitis but to have them as chairpersons of the committees was violative of the Representation of People Act as this was an office of profit. Such pleas are sent to the President who then forwards it to the Election Commission. The Election Commission then gives its opinion based on which the President issues orders.
In response to the petition, the commission in its recommendation said that the position comes under the exempted category. As reported by Live Mint, the Election Commission in its order on 10th July noted that “…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,”
It must be noted that this probe was separate from the earlier office-of-profit accusations against 21 party MLAs over their appointment as parliamentary secretaries.
Rogi Kalyan Samitis
In an order issued on April 26, the AAP Delhi government said that ‘Rogi Kalyan Samitis’ will be set up in all Assembly constituencies and ‘Jan Swasthaya Samitis’ in state-run polyclinics, dispensaries, and mohalla clinics. This move was aimed to provide support to health institutions.
The role of Rogi Kalyan Samitis is advisory in nature and they assist health facilities and develop and customise strategies among other tasks. Each Assembly Rogi Kalyan Samiti is provided ₹3 lakh per annum as grant-in-aid.
The Rogi Kalyan Samiti functions effectively like an NGO, that looks after the management of hospitals. The local Member of Parliament, the MLA, administrative officers as well as health officials are all members of these committees.
Office of Profit
Office of Profit is a position in the government which an MLA or an MP can’t hold. The post can yield salaries, perquisites and various other benefits. As per Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, MP and MLAs are barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain financial benefits. Even under the under the Representation of People Act, holding an office of profit is grounds for disqualification.
Some senior leaders of the AAP while welcoming the order also said that the commission had wasted time on a baseless complaint.