Guj RS poll case: Cong leader opposes Jaishankar's plea in HC

Ahmedabad, Nov 22 (PTI) Congress leader Gaurav Pandya on Friday denied External Affairs Minister S Jaishankars claim in Gujarat High Court that the election petition challenging his victory in the Rajya Sabha election is 'not maintainable', stating that the latter's grounds were based on 'vague and general' statements.

Jaishankar had last week filed an application in HC, seeking the election petitions challenging his victory be dismissed and set aside.

The court of Justice Bela Trivedi is hearing three separate election petitions filed by Congress leaders Pandya, Chandrika Chudasama and Paresh Dhanani, challenging the victory of BJP's Jaishankar and Jugalji Thakor in the Rajya Sabha election held in Gujarat on July 5 last year.

In their reply to the applications filed by Jaishankar and Thakor, the trio maintained the Election Commission's notification holding separate by-elections for the two seats was against provisions of the Constitution and RP Act.

Jaishankar had stated the petition failed to explain precisely how and which provisions of the Constitution and Representation of the People Act were violated by EC in holding bypolls separately for the two vacated seats in Gujarat.

He said the petitions violated Section 82 of the RP Act, which mandates that all returned (winning) candidates should be joined as party respondents.

However, in one petition, though the election of Jugalji Thakor is challenged, the same has not been made as party respondent.

Similarly, in another petition, though election of Jaishankar is challenged, he has not made a party respondent, which is in clear violation of section 82A, Jaishankar claimed in his affidavit.

To this, Pandya, Chusdasama and Dhanani replied Friday that 'in all three petitions, returned (winning) candidates have been joined respondents in each of the respective petitions. Therefore, aforesaid statement is reckless and is based on falsity' While Pandya has filed election petition against Jaishankar against whom he contested, Chudasama filed election petition against Thakor, and Dhanani against both the BJP candidates.

Jaishankar had also contended in his application that just because different seats fell vacant on the same time and hence were required to be treated as one is a misplaced interpretation by the petitioner.

The elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats of Gujarat, which fell vacant after BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha, were held on July 5.

The election petitions have sought the HC's direction to quash the election and the EC notification announcing the holding of polls separately, and holding of polls afresh through single ballot.

It claimed the EC notification was unconstitutional and violated the RP Act 1951.

As per the Constitution, election to the vacant seats of the Rajya Sabha should be held together so that the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote can be applied, the Congress leaders said in their petitions.

They said the EC notification announcing bypolls to the two seats in Gujarat was therefore illegal.

The Supreme Court had earlier rejected a plea by the Gujarat Congress just after the EC notification was issued.