Under attack over its decision to hold by-elections in three Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka with only months to go for general elections, the Election Commission on Tuesday defended itself saying vacancies in Shimoga, Mandya and Bellary (ST) seats occurred more than one year ahead of the end of the tenure of the House.
In a press release, the Commission referred to news reports that while it had announced by-elections in Karnataka, it had not done so for the five Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh.
The statement said vacancies from Bellary (ST), Shimoga and Mandya occurred between May 18 and 21 whereas vacancies from the five parliamentary constituencies from Andhra Pradesh occurred on June 20.
Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act mandates the Election Commission to fill the casual vacancies in Parliament and Assemblies through by-elections within six months from the date of the vacancy, provided the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is one year or more.
The term of the 16th Lok Sabha is up to June 3, 2019. As the vacancies from Karnataka have occurred more than one year before the expiration of the term of House, the by-elections are required to be held within six months.
In the case of vacancies from Andhra Pradesh, there was no need to hold by-elections as the remaining term of the Lok Sabha was less than one year from the date of occurrence of vacancies: June 20.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and a Congress leader in Karnataka have questioned the need for the Lok Sabha by-elections with only a few months to go for the general elections.