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20 AAP MLAs disqualified, HC declines stay on poll panel's dramatic move

Friday January 19, 2018 10:29 PM , & Agencies

Kejriwal AAP

New Delhi:
In a major blow to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Election Commission has recommended to the President that 20 Aam Aadmi Party legislators be disqualified for holding offices of profit as parliamentary secretaries.

AAP legislators, who had moved the Delhi High Court earlier today, did not get interim relief. The Court questioned AAP MLAs, asking them why they did not participate in EC’s proceedings merely because a petition was filed with the HC.

Stating that the petition was filed on the basis of media reports, the High Court asked AAP MLAs to wait till Monday when the poll panel will inform the court whether media reports are true or not.

Earlier, in its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday morning, the Election Commission said the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015 and September 8, 2016, held office of profit, and were liable to be disqualified as legislators, highly-placed sources said.

The President is bound to go by the recommendation of the Commission. Under the rules, petitions to the President seeking disqualification of lawmakers are referred to the EC, according to PTI.

The poll panel takes a decision and sends its recommendation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan which is accepted. In the present case, the petition was made to disqualify 21 MLAs, but one resigned a few months back.

Once the President accepts the opinion, by-elections will have to be held for the 20 Assembly seats.

The AAP has a massive majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly with 65 seats, and the impending disqualification will not endanger the Arvind Kejriwal government though the number of party MLAs will come down to 45.

An angry AAP said the Election Commission had never "touched this low", and insinuated that the prime minister was behind the action.

"The EC should not be the letter box of the PMO. But that is the reality today," AAP leader Ashutosh tweeted.

On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal in his first reaction this evening tweeted, "In the end, truth shall prevail."

"When you go on truth and honesty, there are a lot of obstacles. It is bound to happen. But the entire visible and invisible powers of the universe help you. Because you work for the country and the society., not for yourself. History witnesses that In the end, truth shall prevail", Kejrwail tweeted.

The 20 MLAs set to be disqualified include, Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) -- who is also a minister -- Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura).

Others are: 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).

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