HC dismisses petition challenging LS bypolls

HC dismisses petition challenging LS bypolls

The Karnataka High Court on Monday dismissed a batch of public interest litigations (PILS) challenging the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold bypolls to three Lok Sabha constituencies on November 3.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari passed the order on the petitions filed by advocate Ramesh Naik L of Tumakuru, Advocates’ Association of Bengaluru president A P Ranganath and Bengaluru resident A D Uthaiah, challenging the ECI notification of October 6 on bypolls in Shimoga, Mandya and Ballari Lok Sabha constituencies scheduled for November 3.

The byelections to these three constituencies were necessitated after the the incumbents resigned to contest the Assembly elections held in May 2018.

The petitioners had contended that under the provisions of the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act 1951, it was incumbent on the Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct the byelections and fill the vacancy within six months from the date of creation of vacancy. However, the same law also provides that it was not mandatory to hold byelections if the tenure of the newly elected members is less than one year.

The petitioners had stated that the term of the present Lok Sabha will expire in May 2019 and the general elections are due to be held in April-May 2019 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. In this case, the newly elected member will only get five months and two parliamentary sessions to attend.

The Election Commission submitted that Section 149 of the RP Act, 1951 vests in the ECI, the power coupled with a duty to hold by-election to fill the vacancy in the Parliamentary constituency concerned. It further stated that the first part of Section 151A contains parliamentary prescription for a period of six months within which such byelection shall be held.

The court refused to interfere in the matter saying that holding byelections was not illegal.