The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Election Commission (EC) on a plea by Congress against its decision to conduct separate by-polls for two vacant Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat.
A Bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Surya Kant sasked the EC to file its response by Monday and posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday.
The petition, filed by Gujarat Congress leader Pareshbhai Dhanani, has sought a direction to the EC to expeditiously hold simultaneous elections against the vacancies created in the Upper House in accordance with the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act (RPA).
The EC last week announced the schedule for six vacant Rajya Sabha seats to July 5 from different states including Gujarat. Two of the six seats were vacated following the elections of Amit Shah and Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha from Gujarat.
According to the petition, the “lack of appropriate decision” by the EC despite several representations and exhortations by Dhanani demonstrated “a complete absence of justice”.
The plea, filed through advocate Varun Chopra, sought direction to “Election Commission of India to hold simultaneous bye-elections and polling for filling of all vacancies in all states including the State of Gujarat for the Council of States.”
Dhanani, who is the Leader of Opposition and Member of Legislative Assembly from Amreli Constituency in Gujarat, has accused the BJP of “trying to use the office of the Election Commission to somehow have its party rule the Rajya Sabha despite not having complete proportion to elect both seats to Council of States”.
The plea said that in the press release of June 15, the poll panel termed the statutory vacancies in Gujarat as “casual vacancies” which was a “direct violation of the provisions of the RPA”.
The vacancies created due to the Lok Sabha polls are statutory vacancies under Section 69 of the RPA and not “casual vacancies”, it contended.
“Separate elections for two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat which have fallen statutorily vacant would upset the scheme of proportional representation as mandated under the RPA,” the plea said.
It sought the quashing of the June 15 EC press note since it was “arbitrary and violative of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution”.