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Only The Election Commission Of India Is Competent To Decide When To Conduct Bye-Elections: Madhya Pradesh High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
24 Sep 2021 3:02 PM GMT
Only The Election Commission Of India Is Competent To Decide When To Conduct Bye-Elections: Madhya Pradesh High Court
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While dismissing a plea seeking deferring of bye-elections to the Khandwa parliamentary constituency and Prathvipur, Jobat, and Rajgarh assembly constituencies, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday held that only the Election Commission of India is competent to decide when to conduct bye-elections. The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla was...

While dismissing a plea seeking deferring of bye-elections to the Khandwa parliamentary constituency and Prathvipur, Jobat, and Rajgarh assembly constituencies, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday held that only the Election Commission of India is competent to decide when to conduct bye-elections.

The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla was hearing a plea moved by the Nagrik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch seeking deferment of bye-polls amid the possibility of a third wave of COVID-19.

A further prayer has been made to direct the respondents to conduct the bye-elections only after assessing the ground situation of coronavirus in the State.

Filing its response in the matter, the ECI apprised the court of a press note of September 4 issued by it deciding to not conduct bye-elections in other 31 assembly constituencies and 3 parliamentary constituencies owing to COVID-19.

However, the ECI further added, considering the constitutional exigency and a special request received from the State of West Bengal, it had decided to hold bye-election in Bhabanipur.

In response to this submission of ECI, the Court observed that there was no reason to assume that such a decision (deferment of bye-elections) shall not be taken by the Commissioner after assessing the situation of Covid-19 on the ground.

On the contrary, the Court added, the material produced on record clearly indicates the Election Commission is fully cognizant of the situation of coronavirus and has, therefore, taken a conscious decision for the time being not to hold the byelection's

Further, referring to Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the Court also observed thus:

"It is a settled position of law that Article 324 of the Constitution is a reservoir of power for the Election Commission to act in such vacuous area where enacted laws make no provisions or make 'insufficient provisions to deal with the situation confronting the Election Commission in the conduct of elections as held in catena of judgments."

Significantly, referring to the Supreme Court ruling Special Reference No.1 of 2002, AIR 2003 SC 87, the Court observed that the Apex Court categorically held that the decision regarding elections should not be interfered with as the Election Commission of India is best suited to decide the same.

Lastly, deciding to dismiss the plea, the Court held that only the Election Commission of India is competent to decide as to when should the bye-elections to Parliamentary Constituency of Khandwa and Assembly Constituencies of Prathvipur, Jobat, and Rajgarh should be held.

Advocate Siddharth Seth appeared on behalf of the Election Commission.

Case title - Nagrik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch v. State of Madhya Pradesh

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