The Delhi High Court on Monday allowed 20 Aam Aadmi Party or AAP lawmakers, facing allegations of having held offices of profit, to move the Election Commission or EC for permission to summon witnesses and asked the poll panel to decide it as per the law.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar had on August 16 issued a "draft order" along these lines, which was finalised on Monday after both the Election Commission and the lawmakers consented to it.
The order came after conclusion of arguments on the pleas moved by the AAP lawmakers seeking directions to the Election Commission to permit them to cross-examine the person who had complained to the poll panel alleging that the legislators were holding offices of profit when they were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries to various state ministers.
The lawmakers had also sought that the Secretary General of the Legislative Assembly and the concerned officers from the administration and accounts departments and the state's Law Ministry be summoned as witnesses to prove that the legislators did not hold an 'office-of-profit'.
The court did not issue any direction on the plea to cross-examine the complainant as the Election Commission had earlier said it was not relying on his complaint.
The 20 lawmakers, including Kailash Gehlot, had moved the High Court seeking a clarification of its March 23 order so that they can summon Delhi government officials as witnesses. The High Court in its judgment had termed the poll panel's recommendation as "vitiated" and "bad in law" and directed it to hear the issue afresh.
In the proceedings before the Election Commission, the lawmakers, represented by advocates Manish Vashisht and Sameer Vashisht, had said that they should be allowed to cross-examine the complainants and also summon witnesses.
The poll panel, however, had said that the high 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 on grounds of holding offices-of-profit.
The lawmakers were accused of holding offices-of-profit as they were appointed parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government in March 2015. This was done soon after they were elected to the Delhi Assembly.
In September 2016, the Delhi High Court had ruled against their appointment as parliamentary secretaries. The Election Commission had on January 19 this year recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP lawmakers.
The Delhi High Court had on January 24 refused to stay the centre's notification disqualifying them, but restrained the poll panel from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for bypolls to fill the vacancies.
Apart from Mr Gahlot, the other lawmakers include Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi.
AAP lawmakers Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh were also disqualified.
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