In a major relief to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Delhi High Court today set aside the Election Commission recommendation disqualifying 20 ruling party MLAs in an office-of-profit case.
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.
Terming the Election Commission'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 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.
Immediately after the court's order, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed it 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://t.co/eDayHziHSn— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 23, 2018
The court had kept its decision pending since February 28, when it had reserved the judgement after the legislators, EC and other parties had concluded their arguments.
During the arguments, the MLAs had told the court that EC's order disqualifying them for allegedly holding office-of-profit was passed in "complete violation of natural justice" as they were not given an opportunity to explain their stand before the poll panel.
After relief to 20 AAP MLA by Delhi High Court, Election Commission to now re-hear office of profit case. https://t.co/V8V3afPNhk— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2018
The Election Commission had on January 19 recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs - 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, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh.
The MLAs are accused of holding offices of profit, as they were appointed parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government in March 2015.
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