The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the Election Commission's response on a plea filed by the Congress party against the poll body's decision to hold separate bypolls for two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat. The Supreme Court gave the Election Commission time till June 24 to file its response.
Saying that the issue needs to be heard, a vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant posted the matter for next hearing on June 25. "It is not an issue which can be taken up through an election petition and therefore, requires to be heard," the bench said.
On June 15, the Elections Commission had announced that bypolls to six Rajya Sabha seats, including two in Gujarat vacated by Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, will be held on July 5. The decision to issue a separate notifications for the bypolls didn't go down well with the Congress party which accused the poll panel of working under the ruling party's pressure.
Terming the Election Commission's decision to hold separate bypolls for the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat "unconstitutional", state Congress chief Amit Chavda said, "Election to two vacant Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat should be held together. But in order not to lose any of the two seats, the BJP has pressurised the Election Commission into holding the polls to the two seats separately, which is unconstitutional."
The Congress moved a petition in the Supreme Court sekeing direction to quash and declare the poll panel's order as "unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void ab initio" as it was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Gujarat Congress, said there were judgments of the Delhi High court which were in their favour. To this, the bench said, “We are not saying anything for now. We need to decide whether it is a casual vacancy or a statutory vacancy. This matter requires hearing.”
The Rajya Sabha seats fell vacant following the election of BJP chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and Amethi respectively.