The Election Commission on Tuesday told the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court that the judiciary could not ‘interfere’ in the working of Election Commission, which is a constitutional body and provisions have been made under section 329 for the same.
The EC clarified that any dispute arising over the date or timing of the elections, could be solved only through election petition, hence the by-election to Katol Assembly constituency could not be cancelled.
The EC also urged the court to vacate the stay imposed on the election, which was supposed to be held on April 11, simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
Justice Sunil Shukre and Pushpa Ganediwala started hearing on the petition filed before the high court on Tuesday. District election officer Ashwin Mudgal filed an affidavit before the court.
As per the affidavit, the Election Commission had informed the Central government that by-election to Katol Assembly Constituency could not be held within six months after the seat got vacant due to some unavoidable reasons. On February 7, 2019, the EC sent a letter to the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice. After Centre’s nod, the Election Commission decided to conduct the by-elections to Katol Assembly constituency simultaneously. As per law, EC can conduct elections after six months after due permission from the Centre.
The affidavit stated that Section 151 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 mandates the Election Commission to fill the casual vacancies in the Houses of Parliament and State Legislatures through bye elections within six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy, provided that the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is one year or more. This section did not apply here as the tenure of new MLA would be less than six months. In such cases, the EC decides on when to conduct the by-election. Section 151A of Representation of Peoples Act does not mean that no by-election can be held where the remainder of the term of the vacancy is for less than one year. A by-election may be held even where the vacancy is for less than a year in certain contingencies,