The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Tuesday filed a fresh petition in the Delhi High Court against the Centre’s notification disqualifying 20 of its MLAs for holding offices of profit. The 20 were made Parliamentary Secretaries in 2015, an appointment which was later set aside by the Delhi High Court.
The fresh petition, which was filed after their earlier petition on the Election Commission’s recommendation that the MLAs be disqualified became infructuous after the President gave his nod, will be heard on Wednesday. Their petitions were mentioned before a bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice A K Chawla. Manish Vashisht, the counsel for five MLAs, said that the Election Commission recommendations were contrary to Article 14 (equality before the law) of the Constitution of India and an attack on the fabric of democracy.
The MLAs, in their petition, said they were not given a chance to be heard and present their side to the Election Commission. AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha also hit out at Chief Election Commissioner, O P Rawat, saying that his claim that AAP did not seek hearings was wrong.
“On two separate occasions, in October and November 2017, the MLAs wrote to the Commission requesting it to invite the MLAs for a hearing in the matter, but there was no response from the Election Commission. On the one hand, the new CEC has admitted today that the AAP MLAs were not given an opportunity to be heard, but on the other hand, in the last communication received by the party on 23 June 2017, the EC had made clear that it would notify the MLAs when the hearing would be held ,” Chadha said.
The leaders also alleged that the action was taken under pressure from BJP as “Aam Aadmi Party government is making spectacular progress in providing education and healthcare to the people of Delhi”.
In an interview to The Indian Express on Monday, Rawat had said that the party had two opportunities to request the EC to hold hearings, but didn’t. “If they had (AAP) felt the need or imperative for oral evidences, then they should have pointed it out and we would have fixed a date for hearing. But you (AAP) are not talking of that,” he had said.