NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today sought the Centre's response on a plea by BJP MLAs seeking removal of AAP legislator Kailash Gahlot, who was disqualified for holding office of profit, as the city's transport minister.
Justice Rekha Palli issued notice to the office of the Delhi Assembly Speaker and Gahlot, seeking their responses on his continuation as a minster and attending the ongoing House proceedings.
The court, however, refrained from restraining the disqualified transport minister from attending the ongoing assembly session.
"Prima facie, I am inclined to restrain minister from attending the House proceedings, but I am not doing so. I need to get your (Centre, Speaker's office and Gahlot) response before passing any order," the judge said.
It directed them to file their response in 10 days and fixed the matter for further hearing on April 6.
Senior counsel Sanjay Jain and advocates Balendu Shekhar and Neeraj Kumar, appearing for the three BJP MLAs--Vijender Gupta, O P Sharma and Jagdish Pradhan-- sought a direction for appropriate steps to remove Gahlot as minister of Delhi.
Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Gahlot, opposed the plea of the BJP MLAs.
He said they had yesterday withdrawn their plea from a bench which was scheduled to hear the case and are engaged in "bench hunting".
The budget session of the Delhi Assembly started on March 16 and will continue till March 28.
The Election Commission had recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit on January 19. The president had accepted the poll panel's opinion the very next day.
The MLAs have challenged their disqualification order in the high court, which is yet to pronounce the judgment.
The BJP MLAs, in their petition, have also questioned the reasoning of the Speaker in allowing Gahlot to attend the House on the grounds that he has six months since the disqualification to get re-elected.
The plea seeks the court's intervention, claiming that the Speaker's decision to permit Gahlot to sit in the House is contrary to the Constitution and the 1991 NCT of Delhi Act.
They have also claimed that once an MLA is disqualified by the EC, he or she cannot continue under any circumstances.
The MLAs had protested against Gahlot's presence in the House on the first day of the budget session.
"The BJP MLAs were thrown out of the House with the help of Marshals for raising valid objections against the unlawful presence of AAP MLA Gahlot," the counsel for MLAs contended.
The plea said the AAP MLA, having being disqualified, is "ineligible to continue as a minister in the Council of Ministers" of the Delhi government.