Gujarat RS seats: Congress moves SC against separate bypolls

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) The Gujarat Congress on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission's (EC) decision to conduct separate bypolls for two Rajya Sabha seats in the state.

The seats fell vacant after BJP chief Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in the recently held general elections. In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 100 members, the Congress has 71 members while seven seats are vacant.

Pareshbhai Dhanani, Congress MLA from Amreli and Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, moved the top court seeking a direction to the poll panel for simultaneously holding elections for the two seats. The petition is likely to be mentioned before the vacation bench on Tuesday.

The petition filed through advocate Varun K. Chopra sought early hearing on the matter as the EC has already scheduled the elections for the two seats on July 5.

The notifications will be issued on Tuesday and elections and counting of votes will be held on July 5, the poll panel said on Saturday.

"Separate elections for two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat would upset the scheme of proportional representation as mandated under the Representation of People's Act (RPA), 1951", said the petition.

After the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) returned to power at the Centre on May 23, Shah was appointed the Union Home Minister while Irani was named the Minister of Women and Child Development.

The Congress contended that the representatives of each state in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) shall be picked by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the state "in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote."

Dhanani sought a direction to quash the poll panel's order and declare it as "unconstitutional, arbitrary and illegal."

The petition said the basic principle, both under the Constitution and the RPA, is that the elections shall be held together so that the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote can be applied.

The poll panel shall not exercise a free hand on the issue, specifically with respect to vacancies in Rajya Sabha. The petition claimed that if separate elections were held, it could result in actual abuse of power, as the party in majority will make arrangements to achieve maximum seats.



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