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Election Commission of India postpones by-poll of Karnataka seats; Congress terms it “constitutionally strange”

Election Commission of India postponed the bypolls for 15 assembly seats in Karnataka on Thursday until the case of disqualification of 17 legislators gets sorted out. Currently, the case is being heard by the Supreme Court. The Bench has adjourned the case to October 22. 

The state was supposed to go for bypolls on October 21 as announced by the Election Commission. However, the authority took a different stand and decided to defer the by-poll in states.

Senior lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi, representing the Election Commission told the Bench on Thursday said: “I will ask the Election Commission to defer it (by-polls) for some time.” Rakesh Dwivedi resorted to this statement after the bench said that it would hear the complete arguments at length at a later time.

Election commission told the court that as per the directives of Representation of the People’s Act, the elections to such vacant seats need to be carried out within 6 months. Since the vacancy was notified on July 25, there is still time for the elections.

Reactions on the EC’s move-

Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, the current speaker of Karnataka assembly had said on Wednesday that his predecessor KR Ramesh Kumar was wrong with his decision to disqualify the legislators. He said that the disqualified MLAs have a “democratic right” to fight in polls.

Congress party said that the move by election watchdog is unprecedented. Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed the event as “constitutionally strange“. As quoted by ANI, he said “The law laid down by the Supreme Court in the last 70 years that I know. they will not interfere with the process of election. Now, the Supreme Court itself is interfering with the process of ongoing election as notified by the Election Commission. To me, it is constitutionally strange, but, Supreme Court is right because they are final and there is no appeal beyond there.

Speaking on the deferment of polls, JD-S leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said “This is demolition of democracy. The first time this development is taking place. Shameful on part of the concerned authorities.

Political analysts are saying that this move might help BJP and the rebel MLAs to get protection from the legal troubles hovering because of the disqualification. While BJP has termed it as a small victory.

Karnataka Disqualification case:-

Former Speaker of Karnataka legislative assembly, KR Ramesh Kumar had disqualified the 17 legislators of the CongressJD(s) coalition under anti-defection law stated in 10th schedule. The MLAs have argued the court to quash the orders of their disqualification dated July 28, 2019, since their resignations were “genuine and voluntary” in nature. The filed plea claimed that the leaders had submitted their resignations themselves on July 6.

Disqualified leaders include disqualified legislators include Byrati Basavraj, Anand Singh, R Roshan Baig, Muniratna, K Sudhakar, MTB Nagaraj, Pratap Gouda Patil, Shrimant Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Someshekhar, Mahesh Kumatahalli and R Shankar from the Congress and JD(S) legislators AH Vishwanath, Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda.

Recently, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, one of the judge hearing the case rescued himself from hearing the case as he belongs to the same state. The judge said his conscience does not allow to rule the case on the matter.

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