Office-of-profit case: Delhi HC restores membership of 20 disqualified MLAs

Office-of-profit case: Delhi HC restores membership of 20 disqualified MLAs
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Kejriwal hails HC order, 10 AAP MLAs attend Assembly session

NEW DELHI: A jubilant Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday hailed the Delhi High Court order setting aside the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs in the “politically sensitive” office-of-profit case and said it was a “victory of truth”, even as the Congress vowed to keep on fighting the matter afresh.
Hours after the high court order, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel allowed the MLAs to enter the House and take part in the ongoing budget session, following which 10 AAP MLAs attended the session amid chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ by fellow legislators.
AAP MLAs Nitin Tyagi, Alka Lamba, Som Dutt, Rajesh Gupta and Rajesh Rishi were among those who attended the budget session, after their disqualification was set aside.
An elated Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) welcomed the order but claimed that the Election Commission’s decision was a serious attempt to dislodge an elected government.
In a major relief to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Delhi High Court today set aside the disqualification of its 20 MLAs in the office-of-profit case and directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hear the matter afresh.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar quashed the Centre’s notification disqualifying the AAP MLAs, saying the Election Commission’s recommendation against the legislators was “bad in law” and “vitiated”.
Sending the MLAs’ plea back to the ECI, the bench said that there was violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Delhi Assembly.
“It is a victory of truth. The elected representatives were wrongfully disqualified. The high court has given justice to the people of Delhi. It is their victory. Congratulations to the people of Delhi,” Kejriwal tweeted minutes after the HC order.
Reacting to the high court order, Congress’s Delhi unit president Ajay Maken tweeted, “We will fight it out in the Election Commission again as these 20 MLAs have enjoyed perks. HC has not disputed or denied this. The HC has just asked ECI to look at it again in the light of natural justice!”
Maken claimed that the AAP government itself had admitted before the Election Commission that a huge amount was spent on office, furniture, transportation and perks for these MLAs who worked as parliamentary secretaries.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, while welcoming the order, joined other legislators in the House to thump desks amid chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
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.
If the post of constitutional authority is occupied by pygmies then democracy won’t be safe. The EC’s decision was a serious attempt to dislodge a duly elected AAP government and an attempt to hijack the mandate of the people,” he claimed.