In a major development, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday sent a recommendation to the President for disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs for holding office of profit which sent them scurrying for interim protection from the Delhi High Court which also refused to grant relief but expressed its displeasure over their conduct for the past two years during the pendency of the proceedings before the EC.
Justice Rekha Palli refused to grant any interim protection to the AAP MLAs as they had moved court following media reports about a recommendation having been sent to the President.
After the reports of the recommendation being sent to the President, the MLAs rushed to the high court with an application before Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal. The same was then listed before Justice Palli.
The MLAs urged for relief, saying no hearing took place before the EC on merits, they were never granted any opportunity for being heard and the complainant Prashant Umrao has not led any concrete evidence.
The matter has been posted for Monday.
Before fixing the matter for the next date, Justice Palli pulled up the MLAs for using their pleas pending in the high court as a shield before the EC and not participating in the proceedings.
The 20 MLAs had been appointed as principal secretaries by the AAP government.
Following this, advocate Prashant Umrao had filed a complaint with the President in 2015 seeking their disqualification for holding office of profit.
The President had then directed the ECI to proceed in the matter.
Umrao had initially named 21 MLAs but the case against Jarnail Singh was withdrawn after he resigned from Rajouri Garden constituency.
Reacting to Friday’s developments, advocate Umrao asked, “How can the high court or any court for that matter interfere in the matter when the EC has sent a recommendation to the President.”
“In 2017 also, the AAP MLAs had moved the high court seeking an end to the proceedings before the EC but did not get any relief. They have been using their pleas in the high court to delay the proceedings before the EC but the decision of the President in this case. How can they move court for any interim protection,” he said.
He said the MLAs never replied in time before the EC despite being given many opportunities and rather kept the matter pending for two years.
The 20 MLAs set to be disqualified are Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh), Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura), 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).