The Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the Presidential notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs from the state legislative Assembly. The HC directed the Election Commission (EC) to hear the case again. The President, on recommendation from the EC, had disqualified the MLAs “for holding office of profit.”
A bench, comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar, was hearing a petition filed by all the 20 MLAs, who had challenged the order saying “there was no communication to us (AAP MLAs) from the Election Commission (EC) about the hearing before it. It is in complete violation of natural justice.” The MLAs retain their status in the House.
The petition filed by AAP had added: “It is also that even a temporary government employer cannot be removed on the grounds of misconduct without holding a full-fledged inquiry. However, in the present case, the members of the legislative assembly were removed without holding a full-fledged inquiry and without giving them an opportunity to explain if they ever held any office of profit.”
AAP MLAs celebrate outside the Delhi High Court in New Delhi on Friday. The HC has asked the Election Commission to review its order on their disqualification from the Delhi legislative Assembly. (Express Photo/Abhinav Saha)
AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the HC’s order a victory for the people of Delhi. “Satya ki jeet hui. Delhi ke logon dwara chune huye pratinidhi ko galat tareeke se barkhaast kia gaya tha. Delhi HC ne Delhi ke logon ko nyaay diya. Delhi ke logon ki badi jeet. Delhi ke logon ko badhai (Truth has won. Elected representatives of Delhi were wrongly dismissed. Delhi High Court has given justice to the people of Delhi. This is a big victory for the people of Delhi and I congratulate them),” he tweeted.
Reacting to the order, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “Now that disqualification has been struck down, we want that the MLAs come and join assembly proceedings today itself.”
President Ram Nath Kovind had ordered disqualification of the MLAs based on the recommendation of the Election Commission, which opined that they had “flouted the principles of natural justice”.
The office of profit case pertains to the appointment of the MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries in the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet. The appointment, however, was set aside by the Delhi High Court on September 8, 2016, on the basis that they were appointed without prior concurrence with the Delhi Lieutenant Governor