NEW DELHI: Four more AAP MLAs today moved the Delhi High Court against their disqualification as Delhi Assembly legislators for holding offices of profit.
Their pleas came up for hearing before a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar which issued notice to the Election Commission (EC) seeking its response on the MLAs' petitions.
Advocate Amit Sharma, appearing for the poll panel, informed the court that the commission would not file a fresh reply and would adopt the affidavit already filed on the other eight AAP MLAs' plea challenging their disqualification.
The counsel for the four AAP MLAs submitted that they would also adopt the rejoinder filed by one of the other eight MLAs in response to the poll panel's affidavit.
Taking note of this, the bench said the pleas of Naresh Yadav, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha and Rajesh Gupta would be now heard along with the other eight AAP MLAs, which is scheduled for hearing today itself.
The EC in its response filed last week told the high court that the pleas were not maintainable and were liable to be dismissed.
It said the AAP MLAs have challenged the EC's recommendation, which is non-existent once President Ram Nath Kovind has taken a decision on it.
The eight MLAs, in their response to the EC affidavit, said the poll panel was acting like a private litigant and not behaving as a quasi-judicial authority.
"It is apparent from the fact that through the counter affidavit, the Election Commission of India is defending its opinion and justifying the same by giving new reasons which is in permissible," it had said.
Initially, the petitions were filed by eight AAP MLAs Alka Lamba, Kailash Gahlot, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal, Sarita Singh, Rajesh Rishi, Som Dutt and Nitin Tyagi.
The high court had on January 24 refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying the MLAs but restrained the EC from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for by-polls.
On January 30, the court extended till today the interim order restraining the EC from issuing any notification announcing by-elections to fill the vacancies of the 20 assembly seats whose legislators had been disqualified.
The high court had on January 29 transferred the appeal of AAP MLAs against their disqualifications by the president on the recommendations of the EC to the division bench.
The EC had recommended the disqualifications of 20 AAP MLAs on January 19. The president approved their disqualifications.
The 20 disqualified MLAs include Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) -- who is also a minister -- Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura).
The others are Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijendar Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).