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Published On: Fri, Mar 23rd, 2018

Delhi HC saves AAP MLAs’ “Truth has won,” tweeted Kejariwal

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23INTHROHAAPNEW DELHI : The Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the notification issued by President Ram Nath Kovind to disqualify 20 Aam Admi Party (AAP) MLAs following such a recommendation by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the wake of the charge that they were holding office of profit as parliamentary secretaries.

The lawmakers had been declared disqualified in January by the Election Commission after they were accused of holding offices of profit – which means they broke basic rules by holding positions with the Delhi government that allowed them perks.

The recommendation was accepted by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The 20 lawmakers were disqualified because the Election Commission said they illegally held government posts. According to the rules, elected representatives are not allowed to hold government posts as they draw a salary from the government. Additional jobs are considered “profit”. AAP says the jobs – as parliamentary secretaries – carried no remuneration, which was why no law had been broken.

A Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar referred the matter back to the ECI to reconsider afresh the issue by giving them a proper hearing. The court said today, violated basic procedure by not hearing the arguments of each lawmaker.

“The opinion of the Election Commission is vitiated and bad in law for failure to comply with the principles of natural justice,” the court said, questioning what the expression, “office of profit held under the government” means.After the court order today, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat refused to comment on the setback, saying, “We usually don’t comment on court verdicts.”

The MLAs had told the court that the ECI recommendation to the President was in “complete violation of natural justice” as they were not given the opportunity to explain their stand before the poll panel. Backing its recommendation, the ECI had submitted that the legislators cannot claim that they were not holding office of profit.

On January 24, the High Court refused to stay the notification but restrained the ECI from taking any “precipitate measures” such as announcing dates for bypolls to fill the vacancies.“Truth has won,” tweeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvid Kejriwal. “The elected representatives of Delhi had been disqualified in an incorrect way. The Delhi High Court has given people justice.”

Today’s order in favour of AAP creates history – this is the first time in two decades that an Election Commission decision to disqualify a legislator has been struck down.
The order comes as the Election Commission’s autonomy and fairness has been questioned over a series of decisions, including its move last year to let Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh vote separately; for years, the states had voted together and opposition parties alleged that the de-linking was done to allow the ruling BJP more time to announce policies and schemes that would influence voters in its favor. (With Agency Inputs ).

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