SC stays Bombay HC directive to hold Pune LS by-polls immediately

New Delhi, Jan 8 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Bombay High Court’s recent directions to the Election Commission of India to immediately hold the by-poll for the Pune Lok Sabha Constituency as the seat has been vacant since the death of MP Girish Bapat in March last year.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra passed the interim order while issuing notice on the Special Leave Petition filed by the ECI assailing the High Court directive. The Supreme Court said, “We will look into the matter and lay down a law regarding the issue of whether ECI need not hold bye-election to fill up a vacant seat if the remainder of the term about the vacancy is less than one year.

The bench said it would post the matter to March or April and lay down the law whether Section 151A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951 would come into play in the instant case. According to this provision, the ECI need not hold a bye-election to fill up a vacant seat if the remainder of the term about the vacancy is less than one year.

A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice Gautam Patel and Justice Kamal Khata had asked the ECI to immediately conduct the by-election stating that the Election Commission’s stand on not to hold elections, citing their busy schedule in preparatory activities for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, was “bizarre and wholly unreasonable.

The high court said the Lok Sabha Secretary’s notification had confirmed the vacancy has been there since March 29, 2023, while the current Lok Sabha Term will end on June 16, 2024. The court said that the constituencies cannot remain unrepresented beyond a defined period, stating that in a parliamentary democracy, governance relies on elected representatives who are the voice of the people.

The Bombay High Court had passed the directions to the EC on a petition filed by a Pune resident who sought directions to hold immediate by-polls for the seat as six months had already lapsed to fill the vacancy.

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