Election Commission notification: Bombay HC order to have bearing on Karnal bypoll - Hindustan Times
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Election Commission notification: Bombay HC order to have bearing on Karnal bypoll

By, Chandigarh
Mar 28, 2024 07:12 AM IST

The HC quashed the EC notification of March 16 to hold Akola West assembly bypoll on the grounds that the remaining term of the incoming member would be less than a year. The same holds true for Karnal assembly bypoll too, announced by the EC on March 16.

The decision of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court to set aside Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold a bypoll for Akola West assembly constituency in Maharashtra will have repercussions on the Karnal assembly byelection in Haryana.

The decision of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court to set aside Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold a bypoll for Akola West assembly constituency in Maharashtra will have repercussions on the Karnal assembly byelection in Haryana. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/ Representational image)
The decision of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court to set aside Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold a bypoll for Akola West assembly constituency in Maharashtra will have repercussions on the Karnal assembly byelection in Haryana. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/ Representational image)

The HC quashed the EC notification of March 16 to hold Akola West assembly bypoll on the grounds that the remaining term of the incoming member would be less than a year. The same holds true for Karnal assembly bypoll too, announced by the EC on March 16.

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Former Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar resigned as an MLA from the Karnal assembly seat on March 13. The five-year term of the Haryana assembly ends November 3, 2024, less than a year from the date of vacancy. Khattar’s move to resign from the Karnal assembly seat was primarily aimed at accommodating the newly sworn chief minister and Kurukshetra MP Nayab Singh Saini by getting him elected as a member of the state assembly.

Law bars bypoll if MLAs’ remaining term is less than a year

Section 151-A of the Representation of the People Act,1951, the law enacted by the Parliament for the conduct of elections to the two houses of Parliament and state legislatures, however, bar a byelection to be held if the remaining term of the member is less than one year. HT had on March 16 pointed out that the EC’s move was not in consonance with Section 151-A of the Representation of the People Act.

The Nagpur bench of the Bombay HC comprising Justice Anil S Kilor and justice MS Jawalkar in its March 26 judgement said that since a period of less than a year is left as a balance term for an incoming member of the legislative assembly (MLA), they have no hesitation to hold that the Election Commission’s notification to hold the byelection was contrary to Section 151-A of the Representation of the People Act.

A Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer, Sandeep Goyat said that he will challenge the EC’s notification of March 16 regarding holding the Karnal assembly bypoll. “It is clear that EC’s notification to hold Karnal assembly byelection is against the provisions of the Representation of the People Act as section 151-A clearly barred holding of a bypoll if the remainder of the term of a member in relation to that vacancy less than a year. We are preparing a petition,” Goyat said.

Leader of opposition in Haryana assembly, Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the Congress party has not yet decided whether to challenge the holding of the bypoll in a court law. Party leaders said they would rather fight the BJP in the assembly bypoll than challenge the EC notification in court.

One year to be calculated from date of bypoll result: HC

Quoting a 2019 HC ruling pertaining to Katol assembly bypoll, the Nagpur bench said that “the remainder of the term of a member means the remaining term an incoming member would get from the date of declaration of the result of the byelection from out of total term of five years. (emphasis supplied).”

Rebutting the EC’s arguments in Katol assembly bypoll case, a Nagpur HC bench comprising justice Sunil B Shukre and justice Pushpa V Ganediwala in a 2019 judgment held that the intention of the legislature in enacting the law was to ensure that a member, who is elected in a particular poll held for filling the casual vacancy, is assured of a reasonable term and not something which is ineffective and which makes the assembly seat a ceremonial or symbolic post.

“In order to avoid such a situation, the legislature has prescribed that the rigor of section 151-A to hold a byelection within the period of six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy would be relaxed in a case where the period an incoming member would get, is less than one year,” the 2019 order said.

BJP announces Saini as Karnal assembly bypoll candidate

The BJP on Wednesday fielded Haryana chief minister Nayab Singh Saini as party’s candidate for the Karnal assembly bypoll. Saini who won from Naraingarh assembly constituency in Ambala in 2014 elections has been fielded following the resignation of former chief minister ML Khattar from the Karnal assembly seat. Khattar is contesting as BJP candidate from the Karnal Lok Sabha constituency.

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