SC notice to poll body on Congress plea against separate bypolls for 2 RS seats

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Election Commission by June 24 over a plea by the Congress, challenging the poll panel’s decision to hold separate by-polls to two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat.

A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant listed the matter for hearing on June 25, saying the issue required to be heard.

The Election Commission has fixed July 5 for the separate Rajya Sabha by-elections to the two seats. The petition was filed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat assembly, Pareshbhai Dhanani.

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The bench said, “It is not an issue which can be taken up through an election petition and therefore, requires to be heard.” 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.

The BJP has 100 legislators in the Gujarat assembly and the Congress has 71.

Legislators vote in Rajya Sabha elections in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote system. Each lawmaker’s vote is counted only once. The lawmakers list their order of preference for each candidate. The candidate that is the first choice for more voters, wins.

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