- Congress leader petitions against separate bypolls for Rajya Sabha seats
- Bypolls for seats vacated by Amit Shah, Smriti Irani was fixed for July 5
- The top court will hear the case again on June 25
The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Election Commission over a petition by the Congress seeking simultaneous elections to two Rajya Sabha seats that have fallen vacant after the BJP's Amit Shah and Smriti Irani moved to the Lok Sabha.
The Election Commission has fixed July 5 for the separate Rajya Sabha by-elections to the two seats. The petition was filed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat assembly, Pareshbhai Dhanani.
The Congress said that holding the elections for the two seats separately would be against the rules. The poll body opposed the Congress's request saying that it can't approach the top court under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The Election Commission has been asked to reply by June 24. The top court will hear the case again on June 25 and said the issue requires to be heard.
Amit Shah's Rajya Sabha seat was declared vacant on May 28 after he won his first Lok Sabha election from Gandhinagar in Gujarat in last month's election. Smriti Irani's seat was notified as vacant a day later; she defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his constituency Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The notifications were separate because while Amit Shah, the BJP president and Union Home Minister, was declared winner on May 23, the day of the national election results, Smriti Irani's result was announced only the next day.
In his petition, the Gujarat Congress leader said the election body's order should be declared as "unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void ab initio" and it violated Article 14 of the Constitution. The Congress lawmaker alleged the Election Commission has "arbitrarily, malafidely, maliciously and under the diktats of the incumbent government" invoked its residuary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution and arbitrarily issued the June 15 press note.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi had said if the election to each seat is held on different days, the BJP will win both in the "first-past-the-post" system since it has 20 more lawmakers. If the voting is held simultaneously on the same day, the Congress can win one of the seats, he said. But these elections are never clubbed together, an election commission official pointed out.
Rubbishing the allegation, the BJP said the "Congress has become a lie-spreading machine". "They are misleading the people. By-polls for Rajya Sabha always takes place separately," a BJP leader said last week.
Legislators vote in Rajya Sabha election in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote system. Each lawmaker's vote is counted only once. The lawmakers list their order of preference for each candidate. The candidate that is the first choice for more voters, wins.