The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission on a petition filed by the Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam seeking directions to the poll body to conduct bye-elections to three vacant Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, PTI reported.

A bench comprising Justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer asked the Election Commission to file a response within two weeks.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had questioned the poll body’s decision to not hold bye-elections in Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram and Thiruparankundram Assembly constituencies along with the bye-elections to vacant seats on April 18.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the DMK, told the Supreme Court bench that it was “bizarre” that the Election Commission was conducting bye-elections for only 18 of 21 vacant Assembly constituencies in the state.

Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo on March 10 announced the date for bye-elections to the vacant seats in Tamil Nadu, but dates for bye-polls in Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram and Thiruparankundram were not announced in view of petitions pending in the Madras High Court.

DMK President MK Stalin, in a representation to the poll panel on Monday, said there were no court orders against holding bye-elections in the three constituencies. “Mere pendency of an election petition is not a bar under law for conducting bye-elections,” Stalin had said, according to IANS. “In fact, the ECI itself has conducted several bye-elections in the past when election petitions are pending.”

The Election Commission had separately announced on March 10 that voting to elect the 17th Lok Sabha will take place in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. The results for both Lok Sabha and Assembly bye-elections will be announced on May 23.

The Assembly speaker had disqualified 18 MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in September 2017 after they joined the camp of sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran. In October 2018, the High Court upheld the speaker’s decision. In January, the Madras High Court issued a notice to the state’s chief electoral officer, asking why bye-elections for these seats had not yet been held.