The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the disqualification of AAP MLAs for holding ‘Office of Profit’ but told the Election Commission of India (ECI) not to “precipitate” the situation by announcing fresh bypolls till January 29, when it will hear the matter further.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru also called for the ECI’s and Centre’s response to the petitions moved by some of the disqualified legislators against their disqualification.
The court also called for record of the proceedings in the case before the ECI.
The matter will now come up for hearing on Monday.
It is to be noted that on Friday, the AAP legislators had moved high court after the news broke that the ECI had sent a recommendation for their disqualification to the President while finding them guilty of holding office of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries to ministers.
After the President approved the recommendation on Sunday, the pleas were withdrawn on Monday.
The next day, fresh pleas were filed challenging the disqualification.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the court also sought to know if the petitioners were challenging the President’s approval to which the legislators said their challenge was to the finding of the ECI and the manner in which it had conducted the proceedings which was against the principle of natural justice.
The AAP legislators also submitted that the office of Parliamentary Secretary was not an office of profit as traditionally understood.
The ECI had conducted the proceedings against the MLAs on the complaint of advocate Prashant Umrao who maintains that the Legislators avoided hearing before the Commission.
The MLAs were appointed parliamentary secretaries in 2015. The post was later quashed by the Delhi High Court.
A Bill aimed at getting the posts out of the ambit of ‘office of profit’ passed by the Delhi Assembly was rejected by the President.