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Office of profit: President Ram Nath Kovind accepts EC recommendation to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs, party says move ‘dangerous for democracy’

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New Delhi: In a major setback to AAP, President Ram Nath Kovind has disqualified 20 of its MLAs in Delhi for holding offices of profit, a move the party described as “unconstitutional” and “dangerous for democracy”.

Kovind gave his assent yesterday to the recommendation by the Election Commission (EC).

Reacting to the development, senior AAP leader Ashutosh said, “President’s order to disqualify AAP MLAs is unconstitutional and dangerous for democracy.”

The Election Commission (EC) had on Friday recommended to Kovind that the 20 MLAs were liable for disqualification for holding offices of profit between March 13, 2015, and September 8, 2016.

AAP MLAs were appointed parliamentary secretaries and this was described by petitioner Prashant Patel as them holding offices of profit.

Giving its opinion to the president on the issue, the EC had said the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries had held offices of profit, and were liable to be disqualified as legislators.

Parliamentary Secretaries assist ministers with their work. AAP insisted that despite holding the office these MLAs did not take any salaries or perks.

The President is bound by the recommendation of the Commission. Under the rules, petitions to the President seeking disqualification of lawmakers are referred to the EC.

The poll panel takes a decision and sends its recommendation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan which is accepted.

In its opinion to the President, the EC had said that, “Whether or not the individual Parliamentary Secretaries had actually derived the benefits or participated in executive functions of the government is of no relevance” as the Supreme Court in the Jaya Bachchan case had laid down that if the post falls under office of profit, the disqualification is imminent.

The Commission had said that it is basing its opinion on judicial pronouncements of the past, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act and the Constitution.

The 20 MLAs disqualified include, Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) who is also a minister — Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura).

Others are: Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijendar Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).

The AAP had also approached the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on EC’s recommendation. The court has listed the case for a hearing on Monday.

On Friday, the Delhi High Court had refused to pass any interim order of protection to AAP MLAs from being disqualified.

Madanlal, one of the 20 disqualified MLAs, said that all hopes now hinge on the judiciary and the party was expecting some relief tomorrow.

If AAP fails to get reprieve from the courts, Delhi will have bypolls for the 20 seats. The only technical aspect was that now the Delhi Assembly Speaker will have to notify the 20 vacancies for the EC to announce the bypolls.

Once the vacancies are announced by the Assembly, the AAP’s strength would go down to 46 from 66 in the 70-member House. However, it will continue to have a majority to run the state.

“We are expecting relief from the court. Our petition is coming up for hearing tomorrow,” Madanlal, who represented the Kasturba Nagar constituency, said.

Alka Lamba, who is among the 20 AAP MLAs disqualified, said the decision was “painful” and the president should have heard them out before arriving at any conclusion.

The petition was made to disqualify 21 MLAs, but one had resigned a few months back

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Maoist poster found in Odisha capital threatening to kill missing Kashmiri student

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Bhubaneswar | March 5 2018
A poster allegedly put up by the Maoists was found at Baramunda bus stand creating panic among locals here this morning.
The poster was put up on the wall under flyover with a message demanding the government to release top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, who is currently lodged in jail, in seven days or else the Kashmiri student studying at Bhubaneswar AIIMS Suhail Aijaz, who is missing since Feb 9, will be killed.
The Maoists in the poster said that Suhail is in their custody. If the government fails to release Sabyasachi Panda, they will eliminate the Kashmiri student.
Also, the red rebels through the poster threatened explosions at Bhubaneswar railway station and police stations on March 11 if their demand is not met as soon as possible.
While there is no breakthrough in the missing Kashmiri student and a team of commissionerate police returned Bhubaneswar from Kolkata with clueless about him, the latest poster indicates Maoist link in connection with missing of Suhail, who is yet to be traced by police. The poster posed as a bigger challenge to the police, who are yet to clear the authenticity of the poster.
The twin city commissionerate police is investigating into the matter to find out alleged abduction of Suhail by Maoists and authenticity of the poster.
We recovered a handwritten poster and it is being investigated, said DCP Satyabrata Bhoi.
Normally, the Maoists put up the posters in their letterhead using red ink. However, this poster found at Baramunda bus stand was written in blue ink.
When asked to Sabyasachi Panda’s wife Subhashree alias Mili Panda about the poster, she refused any Maoist role behind putting up the poster at Baramunda bus stand.
She refuted the allegations that Sabyasachi’s supporters were behind the incident. She clearly said that her husband was never the cadre belonging to the banned CPI(Maoist), which has allegedly put up the poster on wall under flyover at Baramunda.
“Since my husband is facing trial and legal process in a series of cases, it is baseless to say that any of his supporters will do such thing to release him from jail,” Mili Panda said.

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NATIONAL

3 sisters found with decomposed body of woman

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Bankura (WB), Mar 2 2018

The decomposed body of a 60-year-old woman was recovered from a house here where her three sisters, all mentally unstable, were also living, police said today.

The police got the information over phone about

the incident yesterday and recovered the body of Archana Pal from her house at Pratap Bagan area here in the district.

Superintendent of Police Sukhendu Heera said possibly she died on Wednesday.

The body was sent for post-mortem examination.

Her three sisters — all mentally unstable and physically ill — were taken to hospital, he said.

One of them was admitted to the hospital while others were released, the officer said.

They four were the only occupants of the house and their parents had died earlier.

PTI

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MoS Defence says situation at LAC sensitive, cautions against increased ISIS threat

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New Delhi | March 1 2018

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre on Thursday said the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was “sensitive” and has the potential of escalation.

“The situation along LAC (with China) is sensitive. Incidents of patrolling, transgression and standoff have the potential of escalation,” Bhamre said while speaking at the annual army seminar here.

He also said religious fundamentalism was rising and Pakistan was acting as a conduit of eastward spread of Islamic State (IS) ideology.

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