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Delhi HC grants relief to AAP MLAs, asks EC to hear afresh office-of-profit matter

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

In a major relief to the (AAP), the High Court today sets aside the disqualification of its 20 MLAs in the office-of-profit case and directed the (EC) to hear the matter afresh.

A bench of justices and said that the Centre's notification disqualifying the was bad in law and remanded their plea back to the EC.

Terming the EC's recommendation on disqualification as "vitiated", the bench said that there was violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Assembly.

"Opinion of of (given to the of India) dated January 19, 2018, is vitiated and bad in law for failure to comply with principles of natural justice," the court said.

An said it is a victory of truth.

"The elected representatives were wrongfully disqualified. The high court has given justice to the people of It is their victory. Congratulations to the people of Delhi," the AAP chief tweeted.

The bench, in its 79-page order, said that the opinion (of EC) is quashed for "violation of principle of natural justice namely failure to give oral hearing and opportunity to address arguments on merits of the issue".

"The order of remand is passed to the of to hear arguments and thereafter decide all the important and seminal issues, like what is meant by expression office-of-profit held under the government...," the court said

It asked the EC to "re-examine the factual matrix to decide whether the petitioners (AAP MLAs) had incurred disqualification on appointment as parliamentary secretaries, without being influenced by the earlier order or observations on the said aspect in this order.

The judgement was read out by justice in a jam-packed courtroom, after which the jubilant AAP MLAs, who were present there, congratulated each other.

The MLAs, who were appointed parliamentary secretaries, had challenged their disqualification for holding office-of-profit.

During the arguments, the MLAs had requested the court to remand their case back to the poll panel with a direction to hear the matter afresh. They had approached the high court challenging their disqualification after gave his assent to the EC's recommendation.

Backing its recommendation to the for AAP MLAs' disqualification, the poll panel had submitted that the legislators cannot claim that they were not holding office-of-profit. It had also claimed that their pleas were not maintainable and were liable to be dismissed.

The MLAs are accused of holding offices of profit, as they were appointed parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the in March 2015. This was soon after they were elected to the In September 2016, the had ruled against their appointment as parliamentary secretaries, after hearing their pleas on a daily basis since February 7.

The high court had on January 24 refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying them, but had restrained the poll panel from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for by polls to fill the vacancies.

The EC had on January 19 recommended the disqualification of 20 - Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gahlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, and

The president had accepted the EC's opinion the next day.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 23 2018. 15:40 IST
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