Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat came under fire on his very first day in office today with the AAP terming as "false" his claim that the Delhi MLAs, disqualified on charge of holding office-of-profit, did not seek hearings on the issue.
Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat came under fire on his very first day in office today with the AAP terming as “false” his claim that the Delhi MLAs, disqualified on charge of holding office-of-profit, did not seek hearings on the issue. AAP leader Raghav Chadha said that contrary to CEC Rawat’s assertion in a newspaper interview that the AAP did not request the EC to hold hearings though it was served notices on September 28 and November 2 last year, the party did “respond twice”. “The CEC is lying. We wrote, ‘yes, we want to place our side’, both in written and oral. The EC didn’t respond. How can you not give us a hearing? “Every judicial and quasi-judicial body has to function as per law but what happened with us is unprecedented, where the cardinal principles of natural justice were condemned,” he told PTI. In his defence, Rawat said that the “notice was comprehensive. But the AAP did not respond in the context of the notice.” “Since the matter is subjudice, let us not talk about it further,” Rawat told PTI. Chadha also dubbed as “illegal” Rawat’s decision to involve himself in AAP-related cases after having recused himself in April 2017 when was the election commissioner. The AAP was in “complete dark” about this, he said. Rawat recusing himself was seen as “an admission of guilt” on his part pertaining to the allegations that he was close to the BJP, Chadha said. “His role is under a cloud of suspicion,” he said.
The AAP’s Rajya Sabha-elect Sanjay Singh alleged that the Commission’s “unilateral action” was in violation of all norms and wondered if the President could not have shown the “minimum constitutional propriety” by meeting the MLAs before acting on the EC advice. “MLAs of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bengal, Assam and Mizoram have not been disqualified despite their appointments being quashed by the high court. “The EC is showing no enthusiasm in the case relating to Chhattisgarh legislators as the BJP government may fall. Are its actions guided by the prime minister?” Singh asked at a press conference.
Chadha also questioned the role of Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in the matter, claiming he was never involved in the case related to the AAP MLAs. “We never even saw him and now he is one of the signatories to the document recommending the disqualification of the MLAs,” he said. 20 AAP MLAs were disqualified last week on charge of holding office of profit. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent on January 20 to the recommendation in this regard by the Election Commission. These MLAs were appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the AAP dispensation in Delhi to assist ministers in 2015.