NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India has told the Delhi High Court that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs’ petition seeking quashing of their disqualification for holding office of profit was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed.
The reply filed by the EC before the bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar states that the AAP legislators had challenged its recommendation, which stood non-existent once President Ram Nath Kovind approved it.
The poll panel had recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP legislators for holding offices of profit by virtue of being parliamentary secretaries. The President had on January 20 approved the EC’s recommendation following which the MLAs had moved the Delhi High Court. The HC had refused to stay the disqualification but had directed the poll panel to refrain from announcing bypolls in the 20 constituencies.
The EC’s reply also contradicts the MLAs’ claim that they were not offered a chance to present their side of the story. “The ECI afforded the MLAs ample opportunity to come and participate in several hearings, which clearly demonstrates and proves that the principles of natural justice have been duly complied with and adhered to. However, it is a matter of fact that the MLAs herein gave only illusory responses,” the Commission said.
The EC stated that it was not bound to call the MLAs for an oral hearing before recommending their disqualification.