By LE Desk
Kochi, April 13: The Kerala High Court has directed the Election Commission to hold the biennial election to the three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala from the present state Assembly.
“It is seen that at least after it arrived at the decision that it is its duty to see that the vacancies are filled up at the earliest, the Commission is yet to take any steps for the same,” it said.
“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 May 02, 2021,” Justice PV Asha said in the order yesterday, news agency PTI reported.
The court delivered the judgement in the pleas filed by the State Legislative Assembly and ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the state, challenging the Election Commission’s decision to keep in abeyance proceedings for the proposed election to three vacancies from the state in the Rajya Sabha.
In its order, the court noted that the Commission is vested with wide powers and it is incumbent on the Commission to act fairly and legally as Article 324 is geared to the accomplishment of free and fair elections expeditiously.
“The Commission, which is fully aware of its duty conferred under Article 324 of the Constitution of India in its true spirit, has therefore to expedite the proceedings so as to see that the representation in the upper House from the State of Kerala is always in full swing and to avoid situations as pointed out by the learned senior counsel for the petitioners, where the nomination is made by the existing assembly and voting by another assembly,” it said.
Last Friday, the Election Commission had informed the Kerala High Court that it had decided to announce and notify the schedule of the biennial election to the three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala before the expiry of the term of the three MPs on April 21.
In its statement filed in the court, the commission, however, had not mentioned the date of holding the elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats.
Three MPs from Kerala–Abdul Wahab of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), K K Ragesh (CPI(M)) and Vayalar Ravi (Congress)–are retiring on April 21.
Earlier, the court had directed the commission to file the statement informing its decision on holding the Rajya Sabha elections.
In the statement, the commission had said the decision to keep in abeyance the proceedings for the election was taken considering an issue of propriety raised by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
The Election Commission said the Ministry had opined it would be constitutionally just and proper that the new Assembly, whose elections are being held and polling would conclude on April 6, which is before expiry of the term of three members of Rajya Sabha from Kerala (on April 21), should constitute the electoral college for filling the three vacancies.
According to the Commission, the Law Ministry has said, “In this case, if the elections to elect new Members to the Council of States are held on April 12, 2021 as suggested, the popular will, which is already recorded in the ballot box consequent to the Assembly Elections already held on April 6 2021, it may not reflect the will of the people”.
In their pleas, the State Legislative Assembly and ruling CPI(M) in the state, challenged the Election Commission’s decision to keep in abeyance proceedings for the proposed election to three vacancies from the state in the Rajya Sabha.
The elections to the three seats from Kerala falling vacant were to be held on April 12.
The poll panel had initially announced that the elections for the three seats will be held on April 12 but later the commission said it is being kept in abeyance following a communication received from the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.