RS polls during term of present Assembly: ECI

Petition posted for further hearing on April 7

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday informed the Kerala High Court that elections to the three vacancies of Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant on April 21 would be conducted during the period of the present Assembly.

The submission was made by the counsel for the ECI when a petition filed by CPI(M) leader S. Sarma, MLA, and the Legislature Secretary challenging the ECI’s decision to keep in abeyance the election process came up for hearing.

Justice P.V. Asha recorded the submission of the ECI counsel and posted the petition for further hearing on April 7.

Counsel for the ECI submitted that the tenure of the three elected members would expire only on April 21. Members of the present Assembly had the right to elect members to the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the ECI had only taken a decision to keep in abeyance the notification and the schedule of the election.

The term of the Assembly would end only June 1. Besides, the ECI had already issued a statement saying that the decision on conducting elections to the impending vacancies would be taken shortly. Therefore, the plea for directive to conduct the election was premature.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that 19 days were required for the election process. Since the retirement of the members was on April 21, the last date for notification would be April 2. As per Section 12 of the Representation of People Act, the election should be completed before the retirement of members. Therefore, the notification would have to be issued in a day or two.

The petitioners pointed out that the ECI had earlier announced that the elections for the three vacancies would be held on April 12. However, the ECI had issued a press release on March 24, saying that the elections had been deferred on receiving a communication from the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.

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