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Office of profit row: AAP MLAs fail to get interim relief from Delhi high court

The judge questioned the conduct of the AAP MLAs before the Election Commission and said they did appear before the poll panel taking shield of the fact that their pleas were pending in the high court

delhi Updated: Jan 19, 2018 20:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
AAP MLAs,Office of profit,Election commission
Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

Delhi high court on Friday refused to grant interim relief to Aam Aadmi Party MLAs, whose names were recommended by the Election Commission to the President for disqualification for allegedly holding offices of profit, news agency ANI reported.

The pleas by seven MLAs was mentioned before a bench headed by acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal for urgent hearing.

The petition before the Election Commission was filed by one Prashant Patel against 21 MLAs who were appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the AAP government in Delhi. Subsequently, the proceedings were dropped against Jarnail Singh after he resigned as the Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls.

The high court asked the ECI to inform it by January 22 whether any final communication has been sent to the President Ram Nath Kovind on the disqualification of the MLAs.

Justice Rekha Palli made it clear that she was not inclined to pass any order or issue notice and asked the ECI to clarify the queries raised by her.

However, during the brief hearing, the judge questioned the conduct of the MLAs before the ECI and said they did appear before the poll panel taking shield of the fact that their pleas were pending in the high court

In its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind, the EC said by being parliamentary secretaries, they held office of profit and were liable to be disqualified as MLAs of the Delhi Assembly.

The President is bound to go by the recommendation of the EC. In cases where petitions are made seeking disqualification of lawmakers, the President sends a reference to the poll panel, which decides on the case by sending back its opinion.

In the present case, the petition was made to disqualify 21 MLAs, but one of them — Jarnail Singh — had resigned last year to contest the Punjab elections.

AAP leader Ashutosh lashed out at the poll panel, saying the EC had never “touched so low ever”.

“The EC should not be the letter box of the PMO. But that is the reality today,” tweeted the journalist-turned-politician.

“It is a recommendation made without hearing the arguments of MLAs on the false allegation of office of profit,” said Nagendar Sharma, media advisor to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

After the EC recommendations, both the Congress and the BJP demanded chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation.

“Kejriwal has no right to continue. Half of his cabinet ministers were removed on corruption charges. Twenty MLAs who were enjoying ministerial perks would be disqualified,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said in a tweet.

BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Vijender Gupta said it was “a huge moral defeat” for the Chief Minister and hence, he should resign on ethical grounds.

List of 20 AAP MLAs facing disqualification
1 Adarsh Shastri Dwarka I&T
2 Alka Lamba Chandni Chowk Tourism
3 Anil Vajpayee Gandhi Nagar Health
4 Avtar Singh Kalkaji Gurdwara elections
5 Kailash Gehilot Najafgarg Law
6 Madan Lal Kasurba Nagar Vigilance
7 Manoj Kumar Kondli Food and Civil Supplies
8 Naresh Yadav Mehrauli Labour
9 Nitin Tyagi Laxmi Nagar Women and Child and Social Welfare
10 Praveen Kumar Jangpura Education
11 Rajesh Gupta Wazirpur Health
12 Rajesh Rishi Janakpuri Health
13 Sanjeev Jha Burari Transport
14 Sarita Singh Rohtas Nagar Employment
15 Som Dutt Sadar Bazar Industries
16 Sharad Kumar Narela Revenue Ministry
17 Shiv Charan Goel Moti Nagar finance
18 Sukhbir Singh Mundka Languages & Welfare of SC/ST/OBC
19 Vijendar Garg Rajinder Nagar PWD
20 Jarnail Singh Tilak Nagar Development

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 17:47 IST