New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to pass any interim order of protection to AAP MLAs, whose names have been recommended for disqualification as legislators by the Election Commission of India for holding office of profit.
Justice Rekha Palli, however, asked the ECI to inform it on January 22 whether the recommendation has been communicated to President Ram Nath Kovind, as the MLAs have sought that they be heard by the poll panel if no such communication has been made.
The order was passed late on Friday evening as the poll panel’s lawyer, Amit Sharma, said he was not aware whether the recommendation has been sent to the President.
On being asked by the court to check with the ECI, he said he was unable to get in touch with them in this later hour.
The ECI recommended to the President the disqualification of 20 legislators who were appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi.
During the hearing, the court made it clear that it was not inclined to pass any interim order in view of the conduct of the MLAs in the proceedings before the poll panel.
It was displeased by the MLAs’ conduct of telling the poll panel not to go ahead with the matter as the issue has been challenged in the high court.
“You don’t have a stay from the high court, but you tell the ECI that it should not touch the matter as the high court is seized of the matter. Your conduct is such that you do not care to go before the ECI. The high court did not prevent you from going before the ECI,” the judge said and added, “you have used the pendency of your pleas in the high court as a shield”.
The court was referring to the MLAs’ petitions filed in August last year challenging the poll panel’s decision to continue hearing a complaint against them for allegedly holding office of profit.
Meanwhile, the ECI’s recommendation gave a ray of hope to the beleaguered Congress and BJP in Delhi as they were quick to demand the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister.
AAP emerged as a big political force seeking to fight corruption and bring probity in politics.
Both the Congress and the BJP, which suffered badly in the AAP surge, said they were ready for elections.
The Congress was routed with none of its candidates being elected while the BJP managed to win only three seats. The BJP won another seat in bypolls later.
The disqualification of 20 MLAs will not threaten the AAP government as it has 66 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly and would continue to be in majority even if these lawmakers are disqualified.