The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a plea by Gujarat Congress leader Pareshbhai Dhanani against the decision of the Election Commission to hold separate bypolls for two vacant Rajya Sabha seats in the state.
The apex court asked the party to approach the poll body regarding the matter.
“It’s better the petitioner go for election petition after the results. Once the notification is issued by the Election Commission, the only remedy is to file an election petition. The court can’t intervene after the EC issues notification for polls,” said a Supreme Court bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai according to a report in NDTV.
The EC had already scheduled the elections for the two seats on 5 July.
The Supreme Court had last Wednesday issued a notice to the Election Commission over Gujarat Congress’s petition against separate bypolls for two Rajya Sabha seats.
The seats fell vacant after BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in the recently-held general elections.
“Separate elections for the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat would upset the scheme of proportional representation as mandated under the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1951,” the petition stated.
It also contended that the representatives of each state in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) shall be picked by the elected members from the Legislative Assembly of the state “in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote”.
The petition said the basic principle, both under the Constitution and the RPA, was that the elections be held together so that the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote can be applied.
Dhanani urged the apex court to quash the poll panel order and declare it “unconstitutional, arbitrary and illegal”.
“Vacancies to the by-election will be considered as separate vacancies and separate notifications are issued and separate poll is taken for each of the vacancies although the programme schedule for the by-elections may be common,” the EC had announced.
In the separate ballot paper system, as announced by the EC this time, elections to two seats will be treated as two separate elections with separate ballot boxes and ballot papers.
A separate ballot paper makes the chances of the ruling party’s candidate winning significantly higher because each MLA will be voting twice as opposed to the preferential ballot system where each MLA’s vote is counted once.