New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party, which governs Delhi with an overwhelming majority, would surely concur to that. A petition filed in July 2015 by a then little-known lawyer,
Prashant Patel, has now led to the Election Commission recommending the disqualification of 20 of AAP legislators in Delhi for holding ‘offices of profit’.
The development could set the stage for possible bypolls on those 20 seats in Delhi, where AAP has 66 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly.
Interestingly, it was the first year of the now 30-year-old lawyer in Delhi, when he petitioned the President in 2015. The lawyer hails from Fatehpur district in Uttar Pradesh. A graduate in Physics and Computer Application, he did his MBA from the Footwear Design and Development Institute, Noida.
Patel describes himself as a person who has an urge to work for society. The inclination made him pursue a degree in law from Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Meerut.
But how did he get the idea to file a petition to the President in connection with the ‘office of profit’ matter? Patel said a book — ‘Delhi Sarkar Ki Shaktiyaan aur Simayen’ by SK Sharma, a former secretary in the Delhi Legislative Assembly —released in June 2015, has a chapter on it.
“I filed an office of profit petition and it got accepted in July 2015. It was not that the BJP and the Congress appointed parliamentary secretaries. Even those appointments were illegal but no one objected to it,” he said.
Patel dismissed the charge that Election Commission did not provide the AAP an opportunity to hear them out. “There were 11 hearings since July 2016 to March 2017 and each hearing lasted for 2-3 hours,” Patel said.
Patel had to argue against senior lawyers such as Indira Jaisingh, who represented the Delhi government, and many other top legal eagles representing the BJP and the Congress.
The AAP has previously dubbed Patel’s petition an action taken by him at the behest of the BJP. Patel dismisses the allegation.
“I am a proud Hindu and ardent devotee of Hanuman,” he said. “But being a proud Hindu does not make me a BJP man. This is a matter of principles. I have nothing personal against Arvind Kejriwal or these AAP MLAs. In fact, a couple of AAP MLAs have become my friends during the course of hearing,” Patel added.
On Friday, the Election Commission asked the president to disqualify 20 of AAP legislators for holding offices of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly.