Disqualified AAP MLAs tell Delhi HC: presidential reference to EC defective
New Delhi: Disqualified Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators on Wednesday told the Delhi high court the 10 November, 2015 reference made by the President to the Election Commission, based on which the Commission initiated an enquiry against the MLAs for allegedly holding office of profit, was defective as it was not a ‘formal’ reference signed personally by the President of India.
Counsel for the MLAs Mohan Parasaran argued that it was a statutory mandate as well as a matter of practice that any such reference had to be signed by the President and not merely sent from the office of the President.
Parasaran also argued that since the Election Commission was a ‘highly powered quasi-judicial body having trappings of court’, it could not have denied the right to be personally heard to the MLAs. The Commission was free to determine the manner of enquiry as long as such an enquiry was done in a judicial manner in compliance with the principles of natural justice, he submitted.
It was further submitted that the disqualified MLAs never held any office of profit. Since office of profit was an undefined term, it was pertinent to understand the nature of the post of ‘parliamentary secretaries’ in order to ascertain whether it amounted to holding an office of profit, Parasaran argued.
Objections were also raised on the conduct of Om Prakash Rawat, then election commissioner, re-joining the disqualification proceedings after he had recused himself. Sunil Arora, election commissioner, who allegedly never heard the proceedings, was also part of the quorum which passed the EC recommendation of disqualification, Parasaran added.
A bench comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar was hearing a plea by 11 disqualified AAP MLAs against the 20 January presidential order which had disqualified 20 AAP MLAs for holding the post of ‘parliamentary secretaries’ as it amounted to holding office of profit under the Delhi government.
The bench directed that the matter would be heard on a day-to-day basis.
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