Four Aam Aadmi Party MLAs on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court against their disqualification from the Assembly for allegedly holding offices of profit. Eight AAP MLAs had initially filed a petition against the Election Commission’s recommendation to President Ram Nath Kovind to disqualify 20 of them.
Advocate Amit Sharma, representing the Election Commission, told the bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar that the poll panel would submit the same affidavit it had submitted to the eight AAP MLAs. The advocate, representing the four AAP MLAs, in turn said they will adopt a rejoinder that was filed by one of the eight MLAs who had replied to the Election Commission’s affidavit.
The High Court bench has clubbed the two petitions filed by the AAP MLAs, and said that it would hear the pleas during the same hearing scheduled later on Wednesday.
The eight MLAs, who were first to file the petition, were Alka Lamba, Kailash Gahlot, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal, Sarita Singh, Rajesh Rishi, Som Dutt and Nitin Tyagi. The four MLAs who have filed the new petition are Naresh Yadav, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha and Rajesh Gupta. In its affidavit, the Election Commission had countered the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs plea by saying its recommendation was non-existent once the president had announced his decision. The petitions were not maintainable, the EC said.
The eight MLAs accused the poll panel of acting like a private litigant instead of a quasi-judicial authority. The AAP MLAs alleged that the Election Commission had not given them a fair hearing before sending its recommendation to the president.
The MLAs are accused of holding offices of profit in the past as they were appointed parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government in March 2015. This was soon after they were elected to the Delhi Assembly. In September 2016, the Delhi High Court had scrapped their appointment as parliamentary secretaries.