The Delhi High Court on Friday set aside the Election Commission of India’s recommendation to disqualify 20 Aam Aadmi Party legislators for holding offices of profit. The court asked the commission to consider each case on merit afresh, reported NDTV.
The MLAs were disqualified on January 19 after the Election Commission concluded that they held offices of profit as parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government, posts they had been appointed to in March 2015.
In March 2016, after the poll panel issued notices about their appointment, the AAP government amended the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, to exempt the post from the definition of “office of profit”. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed at the time that the parliamentary secretaries were “working for free”, but Pranab Mukherjee, then India’s president, rejected the bill in June 2016. In September 2016, the Delhi High Court scrapped the appointments.
After the Election Commission recommended their disqualification, the AAP MLAs alleged that the poll body had not given them a fair hearing. On Friday, the High Court said the Election Commission had indeed violated the norms of oral hearing.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal said truth has triumphed. “Elected representatives of Delhi were illegally disqualified,” Kejriwal said on Twitter after the High Court’s order. “[The] High Court has given justice to the people of Delhi.”
Delhi Assembly speaker said he will allow the 20 MLAs to attend the House proceedings.