High Court Kerala HC reserves order on PILs urging EC to...

Kerala HC reserves order on PILs urging EC to hold RS polls during present Assembly term

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Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 9 (ILNS) The Kerala High Court today reserved its verdict on two writ petitions, which sought directions to the Election Commission, to hold elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala during the term of the present Legislative Assembly itself, as the seats will falling vacant on April 21.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice PV Asha reserved judgement on the petitions filed by the Secretary of the Kerala Legislative Assembly and S Sharma, CPI(M) MLA, challenging the EC’s decision to keep in abeyance the elections, which were initially proposed to be held on April 12.

On April 7, the Court had directed the Election Commission to disclose the reasons for its decisions to keep the polls in abeyance. Today, the Commission, through Standing Counsel Deepu Lal Mohan, placed a statement before the Court.

In its statement, the Commission informed the Court that on March 17, the Commission announced the proposed schedule for the conduct of the biennial election to the Council of States from Kerala. The date initially announced was April 12. Elections were proposed to be notified on March 24.

Following this, the recommendation for the dates was sent to the President, with a copy of the same marked to the Ministry of Law and Justice, the statement said.

On the eve of the proposed election notification, the Union Law Ministry expressed concern that if the Rajya Sabha elections were held on April 12, 2021 as suggested, the popular will as expressed in the Assembly Elections held on April 6, may not be reflected.

The Commission was, therefore, requested to revisit the issue, the statement in the Court intimated. “In this case, if the elections to elect new Members to the Council of States are held on April 12, 2021 as suggested, the popular will, which is already recorded in the ballot box consequent to the Assembly Elections already held on April 6, 2021, may not reflect the will of the people. In view of the above, the Commission may kindly revisit the issue”, said the Law Ministry’s letter to the EC.

Upon the receipt of this communication, the Commission sought the advice of a Senior Advocate, (whose name is not disclosed in the statement), who opined that it would be constitutionally just and proper that the new Legislative Assembly, constituted the electoral college for filling up the three vacancies.

The said senior advocate, kept anonymous, purportedly stated that since the three new members would represent the new Legislative Assembly for the major portion of their term, it would not be constitutionally fair and just nor consistent with basic democratic principles or spirit of the Constitution.

The Commission, however, said that it chose not to accept the opinion that Elections be notified only after the new Assembly came into being. As per the statutory mandate, the Commision said it has to notify the elections before the retirement of the RS members. However, it said that there was no obligation to hold the elections during the life of the present Assembly. ILNS/SNG/RJ

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