The Election Commission of India’s (ECI) contention that it would not be possible to hold the by-polls for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency as it was busy with other polls in the country, including the preparatory activities for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, has not gone down well with the Bombay High Court.
Calling the stand “hardly tenable”, a division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata remarked that it could understand this stand if by-polls were to be held in a place like Manipur where there is physical unrest.
“We understand if they (ECI) say they cannot hold elections in a place like Manipur where there is physical unrest,” Justice Patel said.
Pune Lok Sabha seat remains vacant owing to MP's death
The HC was hearing a petition filed by a Pune resident Sughosh Joshi challengingly certificate issued by ECI to not hold by-election to the Constituency. The post fell vacant after the death of Member of Parliament (MP) Girish Bapat on March 29, this year.
The high court had last week sought to know from the ECI if it would hold the by-elections for the Pune constituency.
Last week, the court court sought satisfactory reply from the ECI as to why it has not held a by-election within six months following the death of a sitting MP.
ECI tells HC it cannot hold elections in Pune Constituency
During the hearing on Monday, ECI advocate Pradeep Rajagopal informed the court that it would not be able to hold the elections as it was busy with other polls and also the preparatory activities for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He further said that even if the polls are held now, the term for the post remaining was only a year.
Joshi’s advocate Kushal Mor argued that the election commission had held polls in other constituencies this year. “The by-elections in other constituencies were held after the vacancy arose in the Pune constituency,” Mor submitted. Court then asked Mor to place these details on an affidavit by the next date of hearing on December 13.
Joshi contended that as per section 151A of the 1951 law, the vacancy should be filled through a by-poll within six months, therefore the same should have been held by September 28, this year. He said that he filed a representation to the ECI in September, however, he did not receive any reply following which he approached the HC.