The Delhi High Court set aside the recommendations of the Election Commission of India (EC) to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs for allegedly holding office of profit. Holding the notification disqualifying the MLAs as bad in law, the court remanded their plea back to the EC, which will hear it afresh.
The court further said that there was a violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to AAP MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators, reported PTI.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hailed the court’s decision as a “victory of truth”.
सत्य की जीत हुई। दिल्ली के लोगों द्वारा चुने हुए प्रतिनिधियों को ग़लत तरीक़े से बर्खास्त किया गया था। दिल्ली हाई कोर्ट ने दिल्ली के लोगों को न्याय दिया। दिल्ली के लोगों की बड़ी जीत। दिल्ली के लोगों को बधाई। https://t.co/eDayHziHSn— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 23, 2018
"It is victory of truth. The representatives chosen by the people of Delhi were sacked wrongly. The Delhi High Court has given justice to the people of Delhi. It is a big victory for the people of Delhi. I congratulate them. " - Arvind Kejriwal
Speaking to the media, Prashant Patel, petitioner in the disqualification case, said:
"The court has said that this case will be reopened. I had just raised a constitutional issue, there is no setback for me. " - Prashant Patel, petitioner
Meanwhile, AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj said that the court has given the MLAs a chance to put their point across, which they were denied earlier.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar had kept its decision pending since 28 February, when it had reserved the judgment after the legislators, Election Commission of India (EC) and other parties had concluded their arguments, reported PTI.
During the arguments, the MLAs had told the court that the EC's order disqualifying them for allegedly holding office-of-profit was passed in "complete violation of natural justice" as they were not given an opportunity to explain their stand before the poll panel, it was further reported.
The MLAs had been accused of holding offices of profit, as they were appointed parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government in March 2015. In September 2016, the Delhi High Court had ruled against their appointment as parliamentary secretaries.
On 24 January, the high court had refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying them, but had restrained the poll panel from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for bypolls to fill the vacancies.
The EC had on 19 January 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.
The EC’s opinion was accepted by the President the next day.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
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