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Delhi HC restores membership of 20 disqualified AAP MLAs

In a relief to the Aam Aadmi Party , the Delhi High Court on Friday set aside the Election Commission recommendation disqualifying 20 ruling party MLAs for holding office-of-profit as parliamentary secretaries.

The EC had recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar said that the Centre’s notification disqualifying the AAP MLAs was bad in law and remanded their plea back to the Election Commission which will hear it afresh. It said there was violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Delhi Assembly.

“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 court said.

Reacting to the judgment chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “It is 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://twitter.com/reportervikrant/status/977107869341495296 

Lawyer and petitioner in the case Prashant Patel said, “The court has said this case will be reopened. I had just raised a constitutional issue, there is no setback for me.”

The case dates back to March 2015 when the Delhi government appointed 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries. The appointments were made to assist cabinet ministers and include more MLAs in governance work. A parliamentary secretary assists a minister, and the office usually comes with perks similar to that of a minister.

Patel had complained to the then President, Pranab Mukherjee, that 21 of the AAP legislators were occupying offices of profit. Mukherjee referred the complaint to the Election Commission (EC).

On January 19 this year, the EC recommended disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs(one had by then resigned from the assembly, bringing the number of disqualified MLAs to 20). The President accepted the EC’s opinion the very next day.