The Delhi High Court is likely to pronounce its verdict in the disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs for holding office of profit today. A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar had reserved the judgment on February 28.
The plea against the Election Commission order disqualifying them was filed by all 20 MLAs and argued that Election Commission in its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind had “flouted the principles of natural justice”. “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,” they added.
Arguing that they were not given a chance to explain themselves, they had said, “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.”
The recommendations for disqualification was forwarded to the President on January 19, and Kovind accepted it the next day. The office of profit case pertains to the appointment of the MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries in the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet. The appointment, however, was set aside by the Delhi High Court on September 8, 2016, on the basis that they were appointed without prior concurrence with the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.
After questions were raised on the appointments, the Delhi Assembly passed the Delhi Member of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) (Amendment Bill), 2015, excluding parliamentary secretaries from ‘office of profit’ with retrospective effect. However, the then President Pranab Mukherjee withheld the assent to the amendment bill, and referred the matter to the Election Commission.