Newly-appointed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Om Prakash Rawat, on Monday (January 22), backed ex CEC AK Joti's decision of recommeding to the President that 20 AAP MLAs must be disqualified in the Office Of Profit case.
Newly-appointed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Om Prakash Rawat, on Monday (January 22), backed ex CEC AK Joti’s decision of recommeding to the President that 20 AAP MLAs must be disqualified in the Office Of Profit case. He blamed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for no hearing in the office of profit case which led to the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs in Delhi. Responding to the allegation that EC finalised its opinion against 20 AAP MLAs without hearing their arguments, Rawat said that the Arvind Kejriwal-led party had two opportunities to request the EC to hold hearings, but they didn’t. “These (two) notices were issued only for that (purpose). If they felt the need or imperative for oral evidences, then they should have pointed it out and we would have fixed a date for hearing. But you (AAP) are not talking of that. You are talking about something that is already known to the Commission,” Om Prakash Rawat was quoted as saying in a report by The Indian Express.
Those notices were issued to AAP MLAs on September 28 and November 2 last year. The accused AAP legislators were then asked to file their written submissions on the information provided by the Delhi government with regard to the offices of parliamentary secretaries. Responding to the notices, the AAP MLAs had urged the EC not to proceed with the case until their challenge to the Commission’s order of June 23, 2017, was disposed of by the Delhi High Court.
The AAP MLAs pleaded that since important constitutional rights of the MLAs were at stake, the matter must be heard by a full quorum, that is all three election commissioners. However, the EC rejected their demand and accused the party of stalling the proceedings, as per the report.
On April 19, 2017, Rawat had recused himself from hearing all cases and complaints related to the AAP, after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned his credibility and alleged that he was close to the ruling dispensation. After skipping a few hearings on the office of profit case, Rawat, on Joti’s request after Nasim Zaidi retired as CEC in July last year, agreed to be part of all AAP-related cases again. Notably, the Commission’s final opinion on disqualification of AAP MLAs has also been signed by him.