NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Election Commission (EC) on a plea by the Gujarat Congress seeking simultaneous bypolls for the two Rajya Sabha seats from in the State.
The poll body has been asked to file its reply by June 24. The court has scheduled the matter for a hearing on June 25.
The seats fell vacant after Amit Shah won from Gandhinagar and Smriti Irani from Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies.
Shah was appointed as the Union Home Minister and Irani as Minister of Women and Child Development.
The petition filed by Congress MLA from Amreli and Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, Pareshbhai Dhanani submitted that separate elections for the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat would upset the scheme of proportional representation as mandated under the Representation of People Act.
In the petition, it is stated that the basic principle, both under the Constitution and Representation of People Act 1951, is that if regular vacancies are existing at the time when the election is held, it should be held together so that the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote can be applied to those elections.
The petition contended that if the Election Commission is given a free hand to issue one or more notification with respect to vacancies in Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and if separate elections are held for the same purpose, it may result in abuse of power in as much as the majority party will always be able to arrange the matters in such a way that it gets maximum seats.
In the 182-member House in Gujarat Assembly, BJP has 100 members and the Opposition-led by Congress 75 members, while seven seats are vacant.
The Congress alleged that the action of the Election Commission was completely tainted with arbitrariness, malafide, partisanship and has been taken in an extremely hasty manner to pre-empt and impede the minority party in the state Assembly to elect a member for the Council of States.
It also alleged that the BJP, running the government at the Centre, has used the Election Commission's Office for its political propaganda.
While announcing by-polls to six Rajya Sabha seats on July 5, the poll panel had clarified that the vacancies for by-polls to all Houses, including the Upper House, are considered "separate vacancies" and separate notifications are issued and separate polls are held, though the schedule can be the same.
The Congress had demanded that the by-polls to the two vacant seats in Gujarat be held together as in case of separate elections, the BJP being the ruling party would have an advantage and win both the seats.
(With IANS inputs)