IN a big blow to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Kerala High Court Monday directed it to take expeditious steps to complete the elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala before the new legislative assembly is elected on May 2.
“The fact that it is up to the Commission to fix the schedule of the election would not mean that the Commission can fix any date”, the High Court said.
Justice PV Asha was ruling on a plea filed by the Secretary of the Legislative Assembly challenging the decision of the Commission to keep in abeyance the election schedule to fill three Rajya Sabha seats alleging that it had been done at the behest of the Union Ministry for Law and Justice.
Justice Asha said the EC would have to expedite the proceedings so as to see that the representation in the upper house from Kerala is in full swing and to avoid a situation where the nominations are made by the existing assembly and voting is by another assembly.
“When the Commission itself has admitted that it is duty-bound to conduct the election and complete the process at the earliest, it is only appropriate that it takes expeditious steps without further delay to complete the election before another electorate comes into existence on 02.05.2021. Ordered accordingly,” the high court directed
It added the power to amend or extend the schedule must not be invoked normally. Such circumstances are not available in the present case.
“It is true that it is completely within the purview of the Commission to fix the schedule; but the postponement of election is not envisaged either in the Constitution or in the rules, in the absence of good and sufficient reasons”, the court pointed out.
Elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala that are falling vacant was to be held on April 12.
Abdul Wahab of the IUML, K K Ragesh of the CPI(M) and Vayalar Ravi of the Congress are retiring on April 21.
The MLAs of the outgoing assembly, in which the ruling LDF has a majority, were to elect the three new members. Voting for the assembly elections took place on April 6; counting will take place on May 2.