In what can be perceived to be a major breakthrough for Aam Aadmi Party, the Delhi High Court on Friday repealed the presidential notification that earlier led to the disqualification of the 20 AAP MLAs. The Delhi High asked the Election Commission to hear the case afresh and avail itself of the explanation of the 20 MLAs. Most importantly, the order also implies that the MLAs are now entitled to function as legitimate members of the legislative assembly.
Initially, the case was against 21 MLAs but it now stands at 20 after Rajouri Garden MLA Jarnail Singh resigned to contest against Parkash Singh Badal in the Punjab Assembly elections last year.
The 20 AAP MLAs whose disqualification has been recommended are Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura), Jarnail Singh (Rajouri Garden), 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).
Here’s a timeline of the series of events which took place in the case:
March 13, 2015: The Delhi government, headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, passes an order appointing 21 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries.
June 19, 2015: The appointment of MLAs is challenged by advocate Prashant Patel who petitioned then President Pranab Mukherjee that these MLAs were holding ‘Office of Profit’ and should be disqualified.
June 24, 2015: The Delhi Legislative Assembly passes the Delhi Member of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) ( Amendment Bill ), 2015 excluding Parliamentary Secretaries from ‘Office of Profit” with retrospective effect.
June 13, 2016: Then President Pranab Mukherjee refuses to give his assent to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Bill.
June 25, 2016: Centre returns 14 bills passed by Delhi government, including Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Bill.
July 14-21, 2016: The Election Commission holds a personal hearing for 21 AAP MLAs, who were made parliamentary secretaries and were facing the risk of disqualification from the Assembly, in the ‘Office of Profit’ case.
September 8, 2016: The Delhi High Court sets aside an order of the Kejriwal government appointing 21 of the party’s MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.
September 8, 2016: Election Commission issues a showcause notice to 21 AAP legislators who were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries by the Delhi government in 2015.
January 6, 2017: Jarnail Singh, AAP MLA from Rajouri Garden, resigns to fight elections in Punjab.
June 24, 2017: The Election Commission rejects pleas of 21 AAP MLAs to drop ‘Office of Profit’ case against them.
October 9, 2017: The Election Commission issues notice to the AAP legislators, seeking their explanation in the ‘Office of Profit’ case.
January 19, 2018: Election Commission recommends disqualification of 20 AAP legislators in the ‘Office of Profit’ case.
March 23, 2018: The Delhi High Court invalidates the presidential notification that earlier led to the disqualification of the 20 AAP MLAs. The Delhi High further asks the Election Commission to hear the case afresh and avail itself of the explanation of the 20 MLAs. Most importantly, the order also implies that the MLAs are now entitled to function as legitimate members of the legislative assembly.