The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold the Karnal assembly by-election.

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold the Karnal assembly by-election. (Representational photo)

The order was passed by the bench of justice Sudhir Singh and justice Harsh Bunger on the plea from Kunal Chanana. The high court reserved its judgment for final order on Tuesday. The detailed order is awaited.

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Also read: Haryana CM Saini in favour of Karnal by-election

The plea had that the EC cannot hold byelections because the remainder of the duration of Haryana assembly’s term was less than a year.

The seat had fallen vacant on March 13 after the resignation of former Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who resigned after the Nayab Singh Saini government passed the floor test in the assembly.

The BJP has fielded Saini from Karnal assembly seat and he must get elected as a member of the assembly within six months to remain chief minister.

The assembly elections in the state are slated for October.

The plea cited proviso (a) of Section 151-A of the Representation of the People Act to state that the EC can’t hold the byelection in case the term of the assembly is less than a year. The petitioner also cited a recent decision of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court, where by-election notified for Akola constituency in Maharashtra was quashed on March 26 on the same grounds.

According to the EC, proviso (a) to Section 151-A does not bar the commission from holding any byelection where the remainder of the term of the vacancy is less than a year. “A by-election may be held even where the vacancy is for less than a year in certain contingencies. One such contingency arises when the Election Commission has to enable a person to contest the elections, who has become a minister or chief minister without being a member of the legislative assembly or legislative council, …within six months of assuming such office,” the ECI said, adding the commission, as a matter of “consistent policy”, provided an opportunity to the person appointed as minister, who was not a member of the appropriate legislature at the time of his such appointment and conducted elections within six months, irrespective of the term of the House left.

It added that the EC has provided an opportunity to the chief minister, who happens to be the leader of the House to get elected within six months from the date of assuming office and cited examples of elections in the Tosham assembly constituency in Haryana in 1986, Laxmipur assembly constituency in Odisha in 1999 and Northern Angami-1 assembly constituency in Nagaland in 2017. In all these cases, the House term left was of less than a year.



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