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20 AAP MLAs face disqualification: No due process, panel decided without hearings, former CEC frowns

The Election Commission did not hold a single hearing on the case after its order of June 23, 2017. In fact, the order clearly states that “the Commission will intimate the next date of hearing to all the concerned parties in the present proceedings in due course”.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Updated: January 20, 2018 9:33 am
20 AAP MLAs face disqualification: No due process, panel decided without hearings, former CEC frowns Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in New Delhi Thursday, a day before the Election Commission recommendation. (Source: Express photo)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wasn’t the only one raising questions about the Election Commission’s adverse opinion in the office-of-profit case on Friday. Former officials of the Commission, who spoke to The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity, said that the poll panel had decided the matter without holding any hearing on the merits of the complaint against the 20 MLAs.

A former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) pointed to the Commission’s order of June 23, 2017, to support AAP’s argument.

“That order clearly states that the EC will continue hearing the office-of-profit case against the legislators even though the Delhi High Court had set aside their appointment as parliamentary secretaries. So what happened after that?”

The EC did not hold a single hearing on the case after its order of June 23, 2017. In fact, the order clearly states that “the Commission will intimate the next date of hearing to all the concerned parties in the present proceedings in due course”.

Nasim Zaidi, who was CEC in June 2017, did not wish to say anything on Friday’s development when The Indian Express contacted him for a comment.

Also read | At HQ, AAP stays combative: Govt will not fall… what about parliamentary secys in BJP states?

Another ex-official of the EC told this newspaper that complaints of office-of-profit are decided only after the Commission is able to answer three questions: Whether the legislator held any office; Whether the office was held under the government and whether that office carried any profit.

“If you read the Commission’s order of June 23 (2017), it’s clear that it had decided only on the first question. The EC was of the opinion that the 20 AAP MLAs had held the office of Parliamentary Secretaries even though it was by way of illegal appointment.

“The order clearly states that this decision was taken without any ‘prejudice to the merits of the case’. This means that the EC should have held hearings on the merits of the case, which it didn’t,” the ex-official said.
“The EC’s opinion, it seems hasn’t been arrived after following due process and, hence, may not hold up in the court of law,” he added.

Read | Not part of any party, filed plea as layman: 31-year-old advocate behind AAP’s woes

When asked about the EC opinion, former CEC S Y Quraishi told The Indian Express: “To me, it’s unclear whether (the merits of the case) were heard or not because the Delhi High Court is of the view that the these people (AAP MLAs) did not even appear before the Commission. This creates a confusing picture. Before we have all the facts and the written order of the EC, any comment is premature but everybody seems to be discussing it threadbare.”

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    1. R
      Raghu Rao
      Jan 20, 2018 at 4:50 pm
      Delhi High Court yesterday asked the AAP MLAs why they did not appear before the EC for hearing hiding behind the reason that they had filed a case in High Court. The court said nothing prevented them from attending the hearings of the EC while the EC kept sending them reminders. The AAP MLAs kept replying to EC that the matter is in High Court, without attending hearings. Check this report from Indian Express itself! : indianexpress /article/india/office-of-profit-delhi-high-court-does-not-grant-any-interim-relief-asks-aap-why-it-ignored-poll-panel/
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      1. S
        srila
        Jan 20, 2018 at 2:59 pm
        hook or crrok i need MLAs to stand their cons uencies and AK's larger face of the party won DELHI but post that.....the pandora's box seemed to have been opened and of course in the beginning a worm or two out but now its become a question of the AAP symbol, ideology and party's survival itself.... DELHI and elsewhere especially since half their term is up!!!!!!!!!! but certainly they still might remain as an clear alternative to any other political party, including the BJP who's saffron flag is flying high despite its otherwise secular talks! well, hail Modi for now..........
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        1. C
          Chandra Prakash
          Jan 20, 2018 at 2:11 pm
          Unfortunate that EC keeps on taking such decisions which do not look to be fair bit are also unfair as is the present case of not completing the process of hearing as chalked out by itself and passing orders without doing that and unseating some duly elected MLAs. The impression of the EC favouring the existing rulers because of it' s head's past association with the present head of Govt while being in Gujarat is getting stronger day by day and taking decisions to suit him irrespective of propriety ,instead of his statu ry actions to come clean. Probably he feels as if he is in way to loose anything having achieved the position which is already an adequate reward for his loyslty to his Ex boss. Now it is yet again for judiciary to save democracy.
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          1. P
            Parth
            Jan 20, 2018 at 12:59 pm
            Instead of looking for the arguments Bhakts are searching for names of the ex-EC and officials. The Court will throw away the EC recommendations as violation of rule of audi alteram partem and of natural justice
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