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AAP MLAs disqualification: Sisodia says will fight case in court

Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the Centre’s notification “would not stand in the court even for two minutes”.

delhi Updated: Jan 23, 2018 23:04 IST
AAP MLAs disqualification,Office of profit,Manish Sisodia
Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia said AAP is confident of winning a legal battle against the disqualification of 20 MLAs for holding offices of profit.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is confident of winning a legal battle against the disqualification of 20 MLAs for holding offices of profit as political secretaries and is hoping there will be no need for bypolls in Delhi, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

Reposing faith in the judiciary, Sisodia said that the Centre’s notification on Sunday — which brings down the AAP’s strength from 66 to 46 in the 70-member Delhi assembly — “would not stand in the court even for two minutes”.

“As of now, our only strategy is to fight in the court. We have full faith in the judiciary and are hopeful that we will get justice.”

Sisodia said that if the high court did not rule in the party’s favour, it would move the Supreme Court.

“We are not even discussing bypolls. It is just a straight legal battle for us now. In any case, if elections happen today and BJP leaders go out to seek votes, they will face the music from the people of Delhi,” Sisodia contended.

Defending the disqualified legislators, he said that they had contributed as parliamentary secretaries by highlighting problems in various sectors. “Parliamentary secretaries in the health department used to visit hospitals and talk to patients standing in the queues. It was brought to the minister’s notice that there was shortage of medicines. That is how they helped,” Sisodia said.

Though the party is still in a comfortable majority in the assembly, there are fears that the reduced number lead to cracks within its ranks destabilising the government. Sisodia acknowledged that the senior leadership was reaching out to some of its rebel MLAs to keep the house in order. “Dissent happens in every party. Obviously, we are reaching out to our dissidents,” he said.

Sisodia reiterated his charge that the party was not given a fair hearing by the Election Commission, which recommended the disqualification of the MLAs. The EC, however, has maintained that the AAP MLAs chose not to defend themselves.

The case against the MLAs dates back to March 2015, when lawyer Prashant Patel complained to the then President, Pranab Mukherjee, that 21 of the AAP legislators were occupying offices of profit. One of them — Jarnail Singh — resigned last year to contest the Punjab assembly elections.

Mukherjee referred the complaint to the EC. A parliamentary secretary assists a minister, and the office usually comes with perks similar to those that ministers get.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 23:03 IST