A single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court Monday transferred the plea filed by eight AAP MLAs, challenging their disqualification for holding offices of profit, to a division bench. The High Court also extended its January 24 order restraining the Election Commission from issuing any notification announcing bypolls to fill the vacancies in the 20 Assembly seats.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru fixed the matter for further hearing before Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal, who can either set up a new bench or refer the case to one of the existing division benches. The court’s direction came after advocate Prashant Patel, on whose plea the Election Commission had recommended disqualification of the MLAs, moved a plea seeking transfer of the matter to a division bench.
Appearing for Patel, senior counsel Meet Malhotra and advocate Mudit Gupta cited a Supreme Court judgment and said that the apex court, while deliberating on the aspect of disqualification of MLAs, had categorically held that such matters ought to be heard by a bench of at least two judges.
Senior advocate K V Vishwanathan, appearing for some of the AAP MLAs, vehemently opposed the contention and said their plea was very much maintainable before the single-judge bench.
The court, however, observed, “In view of the Supreme Court directions… the present petition should be placed before a division bench.”
After the court proceedings were over, AAP MLA Alka Lamba said, “It’s a relief that the court has extended its earlier order restraining the Election Commission from issuing any notification announcing bypolls.”
The 20 disqualified MLAs are Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh), Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura), Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazaar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijender Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).