Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from the state before 2 May, the date of results of the recently held Assembly elections.

Allowing the two petitions, filed by secretary of the Kerala Legislative Assembly and CPI-M leader S Sharma, challenging ECI decision to defer polls ~ initially proposed on 12 April ~ a single bench of Justice PV Asha directed the ECI to hold the elections to the three seats ~ falling vacant on 21 April ~ during the term of the present Assembly.

The court held the legislative intent was that the election process to the RS seats must be completed before the retirement of incumbent members.

“On an overall reading of the provisions contained in Rule 14, 30, 39, etc of the RP Act of the Constitution of India it can only be concluded that the intention is not to keep the seats unfilled but to complete the poll process before the retirement of the members, so as to have full strength in the Upper House to represent the state.

“A different view is warranted only when there is any law and order situation or any practical impossibility,” the court said.

“The fact that it is up to the commission to fix the poll schedule would not mean that it can fix any date,” the court further said.

The ECI had initially announced that the elections for the three seats will be held on 12 April, but later it said it is being kept in abeyance after a communication received from the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.

Three seats will fall vacant when Muslim League’s Abdul Wahab, CPI-M’s KK Ragesh and Congress’ Vayalar Ravi retire on 21 April.