AAP MLA row: Party ready to go to 'people's court' & top 10 developments

AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: PTI)
In a blow for Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), President Ram Nath Kovind approved the Election Commission's (EC's) decision to disqualify 20 of its MLAs in Delhi, a move that has raised questions of whether the national capital will see mid-term elections. The Delhi High Court is all set to hear AAP's appeal in the matter on Monday. 

Earlier, the EC had observed that the 20 legislators held offices of profit in violation of Constitutional norms. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has hailed the decision, AAP is all set to approach the High Court. Further, smelling blood, the BJP and the Congress on Saturday talked about bypolls in those constituencies.

Here are the top 10 developments

As reported earlier, the AAP has 66 MLAs in the Delhi Assembly, which has 70 members. Therefore, even if all the concerned 20 MLAs are disqualified, it will not lose its majority. However, its majority will get narrower. 

2) AAP to fight battle legally:

AAP has said that it will fight the battle legally. As reported earlier, the party has told the 20 concerned lawmakers to be prepared for the legal battle. 

When the reports of the EC recommending the disqualification of the AAP lawmakers came on Friday, they rushed to the Delhi High Court seeking a relief. The court will hear the matter on Monday. 

3) AAP tells MLAs to be ready for a political fight: 

While the party will take all possible legal recourse in the matter, it has sounded out the 20 lawmakers and told them to be prepared for any eventuality, including being prepared for by-polls. 

The party leadership has held meetings with these 20 lawmakers twice in the past two days.

"We hope to get justice in the court. Even if we don't get justice, then we will go to the people's court, which is the highest court," Madanlal, who represented the Kasturba Nagar constituency prior to his disqualification, said.

 

Alka Lamba, who represented Chandani Chowk, said the disqualified lawmakers have confidence in the judiciary but they are also prepared to go back to the people and seek a fresh mandate if courts don't give ruling in their favour.

After the meeting with party leadership on Sunday, Sarita Singh, who represented Rohtas Nagar, had said all the disqualified lawmakers will approach the court. "If we don't get a positive ruling then we will go to the people's court," she said.

4) Yashwant, Shatrughan back AAP: 

Rebel BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha on Sunday backed the AAP over the disqualification of its 20 MLAs, with the former calling the President's decision a "Tughluqshahi" order.

"President's order disqualifying the 20 AAP MLAs is complete miscarriage of natural justice. No hearing, no waiting for the High Court's order. It is 'Tughluqshahi' of the worst order," Yashwant Sinha tweeted.

Shatrughan Sinha said the "politics of vendetta" against the AAP will not last long. "Politics of vendetta or politics of vested interests just don't last long. Dont worry, be happy!," Shatrughan Sinha tweeted.

5) Kejriwal accuses Centre of indulging in a witch hunt : 

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday accused the Centre of witch hunting after the MLAs were disqualified from the Delhi Assembly.

"First they lodged false cases against 20 of our MLAs then they conducted CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) raids on me. When they did not find anything, they disqualified our 20 MLAs," said Arvind Kejriwal in Najafgarh.

6) 'Modified' Rashtrapati and CEC: Some in the AAP took potshots at the President too, while calling for the courts to intervene. 

AAP leader Somnath Bharti‏ tweeted: Learnt that @rashtrapatibhvn found disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs so beneficial to the national interest that he did so on a Sunday, a holiday! Hope High Court/Supreme Court intervenes and sets aside all such barbaric and anti-democratic decision of Modified Rashtrapati and CEC!

7) Congress ready for by-polls: 

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken on Sunday said his party was ready for by-polls.

The Congress is "fully ready" to contest the by-polls on the 20 seats, Maken said. "We are holding meetings over the possible elections. We will hold workers meets after January 26. I hope the people will correct the mistake they committed three years back," he said.

8) Writing for the Business Standard, Aditi Phadnis explains the implications of the case: "If the position of parliamentary secretaries and chairmanship of boards, etc, is deemed an office of profit, MLAs in most state governments could be guilty of breaking the law."

AAP argues that parliamentary secretaries do not receive any salary. In stead, all they receive are perks, like an office car, to facilitate their work.

However, a worrisome fact for the party is the fact that the Supreme Court says all these perks constitute 'profit'.

Further, such appointments require the prior sanction of the Lieutenant Governor, which was never taken in this case. 

Several Supreme Court judgments have also clearly stated that an "office of profit" is deemed not by salary alone but by "perks", which in this case would be occupying office space in the Secretariat and the availing of office cars. 

9) President Kovind approves disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs:

A notification issued by the law ministry quoted the President as saying that in the light of the opinion expressed by the EC, the 20 members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly have been disqualified.

"... Having considered the matter in the light of the opinion expressed by the Election Commission, I, Ram Nath Kovind, president of India, in exercise of the powers...do here hold that the aforesaid 20 members of the Delhi legislative assembly stand disqualified from being members of the said assembly," the notification said.

10) Full list of the 20 disqualified AAP MLAs: 

Here is a full list of the party's disqualified lawmakers: Kailash Gahlot, Naresh Yadav, Som Dutt, Praveen Kumar, Nitin Tyagi, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Jarnail Singh, Sukhvir Singh, Madan Lal, Sarita Singh, Alka Lamba, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar Bajpai, Manoj Kumar, Avtar Singh, Vijendar Garg Vijay, Rajesh Gupta, Sharad Kumar, Shiv Charan Goel.