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Election laws will have to be amended because of Corona: ASG Jain

The former Member of Parliament from Chandigarh said in the new situation which has arisen because of Coronavirus, it may not be possible to permit voting in polling booths where people assemble in large numbers and the government may have to examine introducing online voting or postal voting to avoid large scale gatherings in polling booths.

SNS | Chandigarh |

Additional Solicitor General, Satya Pal Jain, on Thursday said election law in India may have to be drastically amended in view of the “social distancing” which has become a necessity to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The former Member of Parliament from Chandigarh said in the new situation which has arisen because of Coronavirus, it may not be possible to permit voting in polling booths where people assemble in large numbers and the government may have to examine introducing online voting or postal voting to avoid large scale gatherings in polling booths.

Addressing a “Webinar” organised by Panjab University, Chandigarh on “election laws in India”, Jain said that during the last two months, the Election Commission (EC) had to adjourn voting in the Rajya Sabha elections in various states to prevent violation ‘social distancing’, even where only a limited number of legislators were to vote.

“Therefore, how can it  (EC) conduct elections in various states where lakhs and lakhs of people have to vote, divided into hundreds of polling booths which are managed by thousands of employees,” he said. The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said the time has come when other alternatives of voting like ‘online voting’ or ‘postal ballot’, etc have to be examined and a consensus has to be reached in the country.

Replying to a question, Jain said that unfortunately, different Speakers of different Legislative Assemblies have kept the issues of disqualification of legislators under the “Anti Defection Law” for a long time with a view to help and save the governments of their own political parties. He said that a time limit of three to four months should be prescribed for the Speakers to decide the “Anti Defection Petitions”, one way or the other.

To another query, Jain clarified that the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Udhav Thackeray, will have to become Member of Legislative Assembly or Member of Legislative Council before 27 May 2020 (within six months of his becoming a Chief Minister), otherwise as per the Constitution of India, he will cease to be the Chief Minister on that date. Thereafter, he cannot be appointed even a minister or Chief Minister unless he is elected to either of the two houses of the Maharashtra Legislative.