An order by the Aam Aadmi Party government to give 21 MLAs additional roles as parliamentary secretaries was set aside by the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, reported PTI. The matter will now go to the Election Commission. If the EC decides the appointments were illegal, the lawmakers will be disqualified and bypolls will be held in Delhi. The appointments were made in March, 2015.
The Constitution does not allow an elected member, such as an MLA, to hold a second paying job – parliamentary secretaries usually get paid a separate salary. To get around this, the Delhi Assembly had in June amended the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, and exempted parliamentary secretaries from the definition of “office of profit”.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had argued that these parliamentary secretaries would would not get salaries and simply help ministers carry out their duties. However, President Pranab Mukherjee had refused to sign the Bill amending the Act.
The court's ruling is the second setback for the AAP government in matters of its jurisdiction in the past month. In August, the court had ruled that the lieutenant governor, who answers to the Centre, is the administrative head of the National Capital Region.