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Delhi HC says AAP MLAs cannot force EC to cross examine 'office-for-profit' complainant

The Delhi High Court today said that Aam Aadmi Party MLAs cannot force Election Commission to cross-examine the person who accused them of holding 'office-of-profit' for their appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries.


PTI Last Updated at 02 Aug 2018, 18:08 IST India

The Delhi High Court today said that Aam Aadmi Party MLAs cannot force Election Commission to cross-examine the person who accused them of holding 'office-of-profit' for their appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar said the onus to prove that AAP MLAs were holding 'office-of-profit' lies on the poll panel and the legislators cannot say that they will cross-examine the complainant.

"As per the legal position, you cannot force Election Commission to call Prashant Patel (complainant) and cross examine him. The controversy is very limited. The Election Commission is not relying on the complaint of the complainant, it was relying on the documents," the bench said.

Senior advocate K V Viswanathan, appearing for one of the AAP MLAs, said that they should be allowed to cross-examine Patel and also summon witnesses.

He said that they wanted to call Secretary-General of Legislative Assembly and the officers concerned from Administration Department, Accounts and Ministry of Law as witnesses to prove that the AAP MLAs were not holding 'office-of-profit'.

Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for the poll panel, opposed the submission, saying that there was no dispute with regard to the credibility of the documents and this was a pure case of interpretation of documents.

After hearing the matter for some time, the bench posted the matter for hearing on August 9.

The MLAs, including Kailash Gehlot, have also urged that they be allowed to summon some Delhi government officials as witnesses and sought clarification of the High Court's March 23 decision setting aside the poll panel's disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs.

The High Court in its March 23 judgment had termed the poll panel's recommendation as "vitiated" and "bad in law" and had directed it to hear the issue afresh.

The MLAs, represented by advocates Manish Vashisht and Sameer Vashisht, said that they should be allowed to cross-examine the complainant and also summon witnesses.

The Election Commission (EC), however, contended that the court's order clearly meant that only oral arguments were to be heard.

The March order had come on the legislators' pleas challenging their disqualification for holding office-of-profit.

The MLAs were 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 High Court had ruled against their appointment as parliamentary secretaries, after hearing their pleas on a daily basis since February 7.

The EC had on January 19 recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs.

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 bypolls to fill the vacancies.

The MLAs include 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.

The other disqualified legislators were Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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