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Election Commission recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs; party moves Delhi HCThe development comes almost two years after the Delhi HC set aside their appointments. PTI file
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Election Commission recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs; party moves Delhi HC

19 Jan 2018 | 5:48 PM

NEW DELHI: In a blow to Delhi's ruling Aam Admi Party, the Election Commission of India on Friday recommended to the President the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding office of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly. The EC’s action prompted the party to approach the Delhi High Court.

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New Delhi, January 19

In a blow to Delhi's ruling Aam Admi Party, the Election Commission of India on Friday recommended to the President the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding office of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly.

The EC’s action prompted the AAP to approach the Delhi High Court.

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In its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind this 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.

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.

The 20 MLAs who face disqualification are: 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), 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).

AAP moves HC

AAP lawmakers moved the Delhi High Court soon after the development.

Petitions by seven MLAs were mentioned before a Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal for urgent hearing on Friday itself.

The petition before the Election Commission was filed by one Prashant Patel against 21 MLAs who were appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the AAP government in Delhi.

Subsequently, the proceedings were dropped against Jarnail Singh after he resigned as the Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls.

The development comes almost two years after the Delhi High Court set aside their appointments. The court had said in its order on March 13, 2015, that they were appointed without consulting then Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung.

The controversy over the appointments was stirred almost as soon as the party swept the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015.

The lawmakers appealed to the Election Commission July last to drop proceedings against them in view of the high court's order. The election authority's refusal prompted them to approach the Delhi High Court. The latter however also refused to suspend the proceedings. Agencies 

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