SC stays HC proceedings on deferring bypolls in state

An outside view of Supreme Court, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Sept 26, 2018. The Supreme Court today declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the proceedings before the Karnataka High Court in a writ petition challenging validity of the Election Commission’s decision to defer bypolls to 15 Assembly seats in the state.

The top court, however, refrained from passing any order on a plea by Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao against the order for suspending the model code of conduct in the state.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari passed the order for suspending the proceedings in a writ petition filed by Venkatesa Setty.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Election Commission, submitted that the September 27 notification for postponing bypolls scheduled for October 21, was issued on oral observations made by the court during the hearing on disqualified MLAs’ petitions on September 26.

The EC had then amended its notification of September 23 and also passed the order fixing the commencement of the model code of conduct from November 11, 2019 till the conclusion of bypolls on December 5. The counsel pointed out the Congress leader filed a separate writ petition contending the operation of the model code of conduct cannot be deferred.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress leader, submitted it was a legal question whether as an interim measure, the model code of conduct can also be suspended and postponed. Rao had also questioned the appointments made during the interregnum. 

On this, bench said, “Let the High Court deal with the issue. We will not pass any order.”

On Tuesday, the EC filed an application to stay the proceedings before the high court in two petitions, stating that it would suffer “irreparable damage and prejudice,” otherwise. The high court had described the September 27 notification by the EC “not proper.” 

In its application, the EC had pointed out that the HC on Monday said, “The reasons mentioned for postponement of elections are not proper. EC can postpone polls only when there is a natural calamity or riots. Once elections are declared, those can’t be postponed. The suspension of model code of conduct is not correct.”

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