President Pranab Mukherjee refused to give his nod to a bill amending the law on 'Office of Profit',raising questions on the fate of 21 Aam Aadmi Party legislators who had been appointed as Parliamentary secretaries last year.
The contentious bill - meant to exclude the post of parliamentary secretaries from the list of "office of profit" - was passed by the Delhi Assembly last year to validate the post of legislators, who got their appointment on March 13, 2015. The government wanted the bill to give them retrospective exemption. The bill only needed the President's nod.
A petition, meanwhile, was filed with the President, seeking disqualification of the legislators. It said they occupied office of profit in violation of the Constitution.
The President had referred the issue to the Election Commission, which sought the replies of the legislators. Sources said that the issue is pending before the Commission. A date will be fixed for hearing, after which the Commission will decide the fate of the legislators, with the possibility that the 21 seats may now have to face by polls.
Sources in AAP also said there was no question of a re-election as the decision about the fate of the legislators rests with the Election Commission. However, Home Ministry sources said that after refusal of the President, the legislators will automatically stand disqualified, making an election in Delhi necessary. AAP has 67 seats in the 70-member assembly.
As the party held an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, many AAP leaders were severely critical of the Centre, saying the President rejected the Bill on the recommendation of the Narendra Modi government. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal targeted the Prime Minister, alleging that he does not respect democracy and was only fearful of the AAP.