The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Election Commission of India by June 24 on a plea challenging the poll body’s decision to hold separate bye-elections to two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat, PTI reported.
A vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant then listed the matter for hearing on June 25, saying the issue needed to be heard. “It is not an issue which can be taken up through an election petition and therefore, requires to be heard,” the bench said.
Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly and Congress leader Paresh Dhanani had filed the plea on Monday. He had asked the Supreme Court to direct the poll panel to conduct simultaneous bye-elections for filling up Rajya Sabha vacancies in all states.
Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Gujarat Congress, on Wednesday said earlier judgements of the Delhi High court were in their favour. The bench said: “We are not saying anything for now. We need to decide whether it is a casual vacancy or a statutory vacancy. This matter requires hearing.”
Two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat fell vacant following the election of Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and Amethi respectively.
The poll panel’s notice terms the vacancies created as “casual vacancies”, a term the petitioner opposed. Dhanani said the term is a “complete and direct violation of the provisions of Representation of People Act.” Such vacancies fall under the category of statutory vacancies under Section 69 of the Act, the Congress legislator added. Dhanani had asked the top court to declare the poll panel’s order as “unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void ab initio” as it was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.