Delhi HC restrains EC from announcing Delhi bypoll dates till 29 January, refuses to stay AAP MLAs' disqualification

FP Staff
The Delhi High Court has directed the Election Commission to not issue any notification on the bypolls till 29 January, which is the next date of hearing of the AAP MLAs' plea challenging their disqualification.

The Delhi High Court has directed the Election Commission to not issue any notification on bypolls to the Delhi Assembly till 29 January, which is when it will hear a plea on the matter of disqualification of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs over the "office of profit" row.

The high court refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit, but restrained the Election Commission from taking any "precipitate measures" like announcing the dates for bypolls until 29 January. Justice Vibhu Bakhru sought a response from the poll panel and the Centre on AAP MLAs' pleas challenging their disqualification.

The high court summoned entire records pertaining to the proceedings leading to the recommendation of the Election Commission for disqualification of the 20 MLAs.

On 19 January, the poll panel had forwarded the recommendation for the disqualification of the 20 AAP MLAs to President Ram Nath Kovind. The legislators immediately moved the high court, but were unable to get any interim relief as the court posted the matter for 22 January.

However, on 20 January, the Ministry of Law and Justice issued a notification that the president held that the 20 MLAs stand disqualified under Section 15(1)(a) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act.

Ahead of the high court hearing, the AAP MLAs withdrew their plea. Advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for one of the MLAs, told the court that their application challenging the poll panel's recommendation had become "infructuous" following the law ministry notification.

The AAP MLAs then filed a fresh petition in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking quashing of the notification.

The Election Commission had made the recommendation while deciding a plea filed by advocate Prashant Patel. Patel's plea sought the disqualification of the MLAs for holding office of parliamentary secretaries, which he had said amounted to "office of profit".

Of these, proceedings against Jarnail Singh were dropped after he resigned as Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls.

The 20 MLAs 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).

In their pleas, they had sought a stay on the proceedings before the EC as well as any communication to the president by the poll panel.

With inputs from PTI View More