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NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court (HC) today refused to pass any interim order on staying the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit.
The court also ordered the Election Commission (EC) to make no announcement whatsoever for bypolls in Delhi until the next date of hearing of the AAP MLAs’ plea, which it set for January 29. The disqualification necessitates bypolls in the 20 Delhi constituencies the MLAs are from.
In addition, the Delhi HC ordered the EC and the Centre – which disqualified the 20 AAP MLAs last week- to file their reply on the AAP MLAs’ pleas challenging their disqualification, by February 6. The high court summoned all the records pertaining to the proceedings leading to the recommendation of the EC to disqualify the 20 MLAs.
Yesterday, AAP legislators moved the Delhi HC against their disqualification, which President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to on Sunday. Last Friday, the EC sent President Kovind its recommendation to disqualify the AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit.
Five of the former AAP legislators argued in their plea that the
EC had acted in “undue haste”+
, and without “affording” and “giving any opportunity of a fair hearing” to the petitioners.
“Respondent number 1 (the EC) has acted contrary to the principles of natural justice by wilfully depriving the petitioners to submit oral submissions,” the legislators’ petition filed through counsel Manish Vashist argued.
The ex-MLAs further argued that the EC “failed to follow due process of law by not offering the petitioners a full hearing before making the final opinion to the President”. As well, the EC did not consider that “parliamentary secretary” was a “mere post” and not an ‘office’.
“The holders of the post are only carrying out an additional function to assist governance. They do not have any executive powers and, hence, are not responsible for decision-making, unlike ministers,” the ex-legislators claimed.
AAP appointed 21 of its Delhi MLAs as parliamentary secretaries in 2015 soon after it won a thumping majority in the Delhi Assembly polls. One of the 21 MLAs, Jarnail Singh, earlier already resigned.
The axed MLAs include Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gehlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar and Nitin Tyagi.