Disqualified AAP MLAs Don't Have Right To Oral Hearings, Says Election Commission
On Thursday, in reply to Delhi High Court’s petition, the Election commission denied the accusations that they had violated the principles of natural justice in the case of disqualified AAP legislatures. They rejected any allegations by stating that the MLAs didn’t have “right to the audience” with the commission since they have been disqualified.
The dismissed AAP MLAs presented their appeal challenging the Presidential orders that alleged them of holding offices under the Delhi government as “parliamentary secretaries” in front of bench including justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Chander Shekhar.
Amit Sharma, the Election Commission’s counsel, said, “Oral hearing is but one of the tenets of principles of natural justice. I asked them to come and represent, make their submissions, make their plea, I, in fact, am conscious of the principles of natural justice. The degree of the test of the principle of natural justice will be different in cases when the trial takes place and different in cases like these, as per my view.”
The EC argued that they have fulfilled the rules of natural justice by allowing AAP legislatures to make written submissions in their defence.
The principles of natural justice state that:
- No one should be made a judge of his case.
- Hear the other party or the rule of fair hearing or the practice that no one should be condemned unheard.
Sharma also told that AAP MLA’s were given sufficient opportunity and that they have submitted detailed answers to the case. “This is not a case of no-opportunity, this is a case of sufficient opportunity. There is no right to the audience in all cases. Parties can be heard through written submissions also,” he added.
The counsel pointed out the notices issued to the MLAs and made accusations that they were doing all this to lengthen the proceedings and that they were willingly avoiding being part of the commission’s proceedings. The next hearing will take place on 26 February.
Since the laws of natural justice allow any form of representation, the plea of AAP legislatures that they were denied oral hearing by the Election commission fails because they were given ample opportunity to provide defend themselves through written submissions.
The EC’s counsel argued that this was a case of sufficient opportunity since the MLAs were the one that didn’t show up in the EC’s proceedings making it an extended argument.