Kochi, Apr 9 (PTI) The Election Commission on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that it has 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, did not mention the date of holding the elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats.
The commission filed the statement in response to the pleas filed by the State Legislative Assembly and ruling CPI(M) in the state, challenging the EC's decision to keep in abeyance proceedings for the proposed election to three vacancies from the state in the Rajya Sabha.
Three MPs from Kerala--Abdul Wahab of the 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 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.
It 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 its statement, the Commission said, 'While the date of expiration of the term of current assembly may be a relevant factor for consideration, it cannot be the sole basis for determining the schedule of such elections which ultimately affect the functioning of the House where the vacancies belong, i.e. the Upper House'.
The Commission also said the Supreme Court has also held in a special reference in connection with a Gujarat Assembly election matter that it is the Election Commission's mandate under Article 324 to conduct free and fair elections at the earliest after dissolution of a House and the same principle would also apply to vacanciesin Upper House of Parliament.
'Accordingly, notification should be issued before expiry of the term of retiring members, which is April 21, 2021 in this case,' it said.
In their pleas, the State Legislative Assembly and ruling CPI (M) in the state, challenged the EC'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 was 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. PTI COR TGB BN BN