The Delhi high court is likely to pronounce on Friday its verdict on the plea of 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs challenging their disqualification for holding office-of-profit when they were appointed parliamentary secretaries.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar kept its decision pending since February 28, when it had reserved the judgement after the legislators, Election Commission of India and other parties had concluded their arguments.
During the arguments, the MLAs had told the court that EC's order disqualifying them for allegedly holding office-of-profit was passed in "complete violation of natural justice" as they were not given an opportunity to explain their stand before the poll panel.
The bench was also requested by the legislators to remand their case back to the poll panel with a direction to hear the matter afresh. They had approached the high court challenging their disqualification after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the EC's recommendation.
Backing its recommendation to the President for AAP MLAs' disqualification, the poll panel had submitted that the legislators cannot claim that they were not holding office-of-profit. It had also claimed that these MLAs' pleas were not maintainable and were liable to be dismissed.
The MLAs are accused of holding offices of profit, as they were appointed parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government in March 2015. This was soon after they were elected to the Delhi Assembly. In September 2016, the Delhi high court had ruled against their appointment as parliamentary secretaries, after hearing their pleas on a daily basis since February 7.
The high court had on January 24 refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying them, but had restrained the poll panel from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for by polls to fill the vacancies.
The EC had on January 19 recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs - Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gahlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh.
The president had accepted the EC's opinion the next day. -- PTI