Supreme Court to hear Pareshbhai Dhanani, Congress’s plea on Rajya Sabha bypolls

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New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea by the Gujarat Congress seeking direction to the Election Commission (EC) to hold simultaneous polls for two Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat. The court has listed the matter for a hearing on Wednesday.

Pareshbhai Dhanani, Congress MLA from Amreli and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, had moved the top court against the EC decision to conduct separate bypolls for the two Rajya Sabha seats.

Filed through advocate Varun K. Chopra, the petition sought an early hearing on the matter as the EC has already scheduled the elections for the two seats on July 5.

The notifications will be issued on Tuesday and elections and counting of votes will be held on July 5, the poll panel said on Saturday.

The seats fell vacant after BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in the recently-held general elections.

In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 100 MLAs, Congress has 71 while seven seats are vacant.

“Separate elections for the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat would upset the scheme of proportional representation as mandated under the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1951,” said the petition.

It also contended that the representatives of each state in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) shall be picked by the elected members from the Legislative Assembly of the state “in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.”

The petition said the basic principle, both under the Constitution and the RPA, was that the elections be held together so that the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote can be applied.

Dhanani urged the apex court to quash the poll panel order and declare it “unconstitutional, arbitrary and illegal.”

The poll panel shall not exercise a free hand on the issue, specifically with respect to vacancies in the Rajya Sabha, urged the petition, claiming that if separate elections were held, it would result in actual abuse of power, as the party in majority would make arrangements to achieve the maximum seats.

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