AAP MLAs cannot force EC to cross-examine complainant: HC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Thursday said that Aam Aadmi Party MLAs cannot force Election Commission (EC) to cross-examine the person who accused them of holding "office-of-profit" for their appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries. A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar said the onus to prove that AAP MLAs were holding 'office-of-profit' lies on the poll panel and the legislators cannot say that they will cross-examine the complainant.

"As per the legal position, you cannot force EC to call Prashant Patel (complainant) and cross examine him. The controversy is very limited. The Election Commission is not relying on the complaint of the complainant, it was relying on the documents," the bench said.

Senior advocate KV Viswanathan, appearing for one of the AAP MLAs, said that they should be allowed to cross-examine Patel and also summon witnesses. He said that they wanted to call Secretary-General of Legislative Assembly and the officers concerned from Administration Department, Accounts and Ministry of Law as witnesses to prove that the AAP MLAs were not holding "office-of-profit".

Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for the poll panel, opposed the submission, saying that there was no dispute with regard to the credibility of the documents and this was a pure case of interpretation of documents. After hearing the matter for some time, the bench posted the matter for hearing on August 9. The MLAs, including Kailash Gehlot, have also urged that they be allowed to summon some Delhi government officials as witnesses and sought clarification of the high court's March 23 decision setting aside the poll panel's disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs.

The high court in its March 23 judgment had termed the poll panel's recommendation as 'vitiated' and "bad in law" and had directed it to hear the issue afresh. The MLAs, represented by advocates Manish Vashisht and Sameer Vashisht, said that they should be allowed to cross-examine the complainant and also summon witnesses. The EC, however, contended that the court's order clearly meant that only oral arguments were to

be heard.

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