The election commission on Friday had disqualified 20 AAP MLAs for holding “office of profit”. The EC has sent its recommendation to President Ramnath Kovind for approval. After this, six of the MLAs had moved to the Delhi High Court against the EC and seeking interim relief on the disqualification.
The Delhi High court refused to grant any interim relief for the 20 AAP MLAs facing disqualification. A bench hearing the move expressed displeasure over the conduct of the MLAs too.
The appeal in the High Court was scheduled for an urgent late evening hearing. The AAP MLAs had pleaded that they were never given a chance to clarify their stand before the EC. However, Justice Rekha Palli, during the hearing, repeatedly pointed out that records showed the MLAs had refused to participate in the proceedings before the EC. She said she was not inclined to give any interim relief to the legislators as they had not cooperated with the election commission in its proceedings on the issue:
“You don’t have a stay from the high court but you tell the EC that it should not touch the matter as the high court is seized of it. Your conduct is such that you do not care to go before the EC. Who stopped you? The high court did not prevent you from going before the EC,”
The court further remarked that they have “tried to use the pendency of their case in the High Court as a shield”. With this, AAP’s public claim that they did not get adequate chance to put their case across to the EC, stands debunked. In fact, as shown in our previous posts, the AAP MLAs had actually got more than a fair chance.
The original deadline seeking response from the AAP MLAs was October 7 2016. This was extended by another 10 days as some AAP MLAs had failed to file replies. AAP MLA Alka Lamba, had given a flimsy reason that she could not submit her reply due to “faulty pen drives” given by the EC and unavailability of lawyers on account of holidays last week.
More recently, in November 2017, the EC had given one last chance to the MLAs to submit their response. The EC had initially served a notice to the 20 AAP MLAs on September 28 seeking their written submissions, but many of their replies did not address the central issue and ended up raising other queries, hence they were given one last opportunity.
In the face of the above facts and the High Court’s observation, it is evident that the AAP is bluffing the public.