AAP MLAs Disqualified By EC Restores Their Membership With Delhi HC Order

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Reacting to the Delhi High Court's order for restoration of membership of the 20 AAP legislators disqualified by the poll panel, Mr Tiwari said, "the decision of HC directing the EC to hear again the petition of 20 MLAs involved in the matter of Office of Profit is a unique proof of the independence of judiciary and freedom in Indian democracy".

"Accordingly, writ of certiorari is issued quashing the opinion. and the consequent order/notification dated January 20, 2018, for violation of principles of natural justice, namely, failure to give oral hearing and opportunity to address arguments on merits of the issue whether the MLAs had incurred disqualification", the court said.

When asked about the allegations of him "hurriedly" recommending the disqualification to the President on his last day in office, the former CEC said that he was the only one among the three election commissioners to have heard the case from the beginning and hence the need to close it in the context of continuity of a case.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia too welcomed the order as he joined the AAP legislators in thumping tables in the Delhi Assembly during its ongoing Budget session.

The MLA's were also not formally informed about then Election Commissioner OP Rawat joining the hearings after recusing himself from the case past year. No doubt the rules of natural justice have been upheld, but just like the AAP has made an absolute mockery of the laws, the BJP is flouting every rule in Manipur.

To counter the Election Commission argument, the AAP party said that they were not allowed to present a defense.

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"The BJP is aware their government is doubly disqualified - first, for having illegally allotted offices of profit to 12 MLAs and second for not having disqualified the defecting MLA who has done so in gross violation of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and Supreme Court's decision in Kihoto Holohan v. Zachillu".

Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh said the decision of the poll panel to disqualify the MLAs for allegedly holding office of profit was an attempt to hijack the mandate of the people.

After the high court's verdict, Alka Lamba, one of the disqualified MLAs, said the court had accepted that the principles of the natural justice were not followed in their case.

"Truth has won. The representatives elected by the people of Delhi were dismissed in a wrong manner". Congress's Delhi unit president Ajay Maken tweeted.

However, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat refrained from making any comment on the high court order. AAP's victory during the Assembly elections in 2015 fueled the controversy. Earlier, on January 24, the high court had 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 in the Capital to fill the vacancies.

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