Office of profit case: EC rejects AAP plea to call Delhi govt officials as witnesses

New Delhi:

The Election Commission on Tuesday rejected a plea by Aam Aadmi Party MLAs to summon officials of the Delhi government and the state assembly as witnesses to prove that they were not enjoying the benefits of any office of profit by holding the post of parliamentary secretaries.

“…There is no reason to call witnesses to give evidence on the same… Moreover, as far as proving the non-receipt of benefits is concerned, it is reiterated that it is not the actual receipt but the potential that is to be seen in an enquiry like the present matter… There is again no need to call any witness to prove that no benefit was taken by the applicants/respondents by virtue of occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries,” the Commission said in its order.

Earlier, the Commission had rejected a similar plea by the 20 AAP lawmakers to cross examine the petitioner in the office of profit case Prashant Patel.

The MLAs had then moved the Delhi High Court against the EC order. The high court had maintained that while Patel cannot be cross examined as a witness, the MLAs can move a fresh plea before the EC to cross examine Delhi government officials.

While giving its order, the EC quoted the Delhi High Court verdict which had said that if the MLAs file an application to summon officials as witnesses, it should have full details and particulars on why oral examination in respect of a specific documents is required.
The EC said the application lacked the details and was not filed in the prescribed format.

“… These details cannot even be ascertained by perusing the application as … they have only mentioned that ‘concerned official’ from certain departments may be summoned for examination and no specific name of a witness has been supplied …The omission of names and details of the witnesses makes it impossible to issue summons and this application deserves to be rejected on this very ground,” the order said.

The AAP MLAs had said that they were filing the application to bring out clear factual matrix on whether they held an office of profit under the government as alleged by the petitioner.

The Election Commission is hearing afresh the case related to disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for allegedly holding office-of-profit by virtue of their appointment as parliamentary secretaries.

The EC had, on January 19, recommended the disqualification of the 20 AAP MLAs. President Ram Nath Kovind had accepted the poll panel’s opinion the next day.
But the EC’s move was quashed by the Delhi High Court, terming it “bad in law”.

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