New Delhi, Apr 13: The Election Commission of India (ECI) will hear Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs Office of Profit case on May 17 at 3 PM. Earlier on March 23, the Delhi High Court restored the membership of 20 disqualified MLAs of Delhi’s ruling party, quashing the EC’s recommendation in the office-of-profit case as “vitiated” and in violation of natural justice.
The court while setting aside the recommendation and the consequent Presidential order at the same time directed the poll panel to hear the matter afresh, observing no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Delhi Assembly.
Remanding the MLAs’ plea for being reinstated back to the EC, a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar, said, “Opinion of Election Commission of India (given to the President of India) dated January 19, 2018, is vitiated and bad in law for failure to comply with principles of natural justice.” The bench, in its 79-page order said that the opinion (of EC) is quashed for “violation of principle of natural justice namely failure to give oral hearing and opportunity to address arguments on merits of the issue”.
“The order of remand is passed to the Election Commission of India to hear arguments and thereafter decide all the important and seminal issues, like what is meant by expression office-of-profit held under the government…,” the court said It asked the EC to “re-examine the factual matrix to decide whether the petitioners (AAP MLAs) had incurred disqualification on appointment as parliamentary secretaries, without being influenced by the earlier order or observations on the said aspect in this order.
The High Court’s order was hailed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He termed it as the ‘victory of truth’.
Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal had tweeted, “It is a victory of truth. The elected representatives were wrongfully disqualified. The high court has given justice to the people of Delhi. It is their victory. Congratulations to the people of Delhi.”
The EC had on January 19 recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs – Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gahlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh. President Ram Nath Kovind had accepted the EC’s opinion the next day. The disqualification had reduced AAP’s strength in the 70-member Delhi Assembly from 66 to 46.
(Inputs from PTI)