Office of profit: Delhi HC quashes notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs, Kejriwal calls it victory of truthhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/aap-disqualification-plea-delhi-hc-quashes-presidential-notification-asks-ec-to-review-its-order-5108600/

Office of profit: Delhi HC quashes notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs, Kejriwal calls it victory of truth

AAP MLAs' disqualification plea: Striking down the Election Commission's order disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs, the Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the Presidential notification and directed the poll body to hear the case once again.

AAP Mlas disqualification, office of profit
Arvind Kejriwal celebrating the judgement of Delhi High Court with AAP 20 MLAs at his residence in New Delhi on Friday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Striking down the Election Commission’s order disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs, the Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the Presidential notification and directed the poll body to hear the case once again. The President, acting on the recommendation from the EC, had disqualified the MLAs “for holding office of profit.” A bench, comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar, was hearing a petition filed by all the 20 MLAs, who had challenged the order saying “there was no communication to us (AAP MLAs) from the Election Commission (EC) about the hearing before it. It is in complete violation of natural justice.” The MLAs have been reinsted in the House.

The petition filed by AAP had added: “It is also that even a temporary government employer cannot be removed on the grounds of misconduct without holding a full-fledged inquiry. However, in the present case, the members of the legislative assembly were removed without holding a full-fledged inquiry and without giving them an opportunity to explain if they ever held any office of profit.”

Express Explained | What is the Office for Profit case?

AAP workers and MLAs celebrating outside the court on Friday. (Express Photo/Abhinav Saha)

AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the HC’s order a victory for the people of Delhi. “Satya ki jeet hui. Delhi ke logon dwara chune huye pratinidhi ko galat tareeke se barkhaast kia gaya tha. Delhi HC ne Delhi ke logon ko nyaay diya. Delhi ke logon ki badi jeet. Delhi ke logon ko badhai (Truth has won. Elected representatives of Delhi were wrongly dismissed. Delhi High Court has given justice to the people of Delhi. This is a big victory for the people of Delhi and I congratulate them),” he tweeted.

Reacting to the order, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “Now that disqualification has been struck down, we want that the MLAs come and join assembly proceedings today itself.” AAP has 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly, and would have continued to enjoy a majority in the House despite the disqualification of its MLAs.

The 20 AAP MLAs include Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar). Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar), Sukhvir Singh (Mundka), Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Anil Kumar Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Vijendar Garg Vijay (Rajinder Nagar), Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Sharad Kumar (Narela) and Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar). Follow AAP MLA’s disqualification plea LIVE UPDATES

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Delhi High Court quashes AAP MLA disqualification
AAP MLAs flash victory signs after the Delhi HC quashed their disqualification. (Express Photo/Abhinav Saha)

President Ram Nath Kovind had ordered disqualification of the MLAs based on the recommendation of the Election Commission, which opined that they had “flouted the principles of natural justice”.

The office of profit case pertains to the appointment of the MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries in the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet. They are accused of being unconstitutionally appointed as parliamentary secretaries to assist various ministers of the Delhi government. There were originally 21 MLAs disqualified, but it fell to 20 after Rajouri Garden MLA Jarnail Singh resigned to contest the Punjab Assembly elections last year.

Timeline | How the ‘office for profit’ case unfolded 

Delhi High Court quashes AAP MLA disqualification

The Constitution prohibits Members of Parliament or legislators from accepting government positions which carry some financial remuneration or other benefits. Any representative in violation of this stands to be disqualified. The aim of this provision is to preserve the independence of the legislature by keeping its members away from any temptations from the executive.