S Jaishankar urges Gujarat HC to quash Congress leader's plea on RS by-poll

S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar filed an affidavit in the Gujarat High Court on Monday, defending his election to the Rajya Sabha from the state, claiming that the Election Commission broke no rules by holding separate elections for two seats.

Congress leader Gaurav Pandya, who had lost to BJP candidate Jaishankar in the Rajya Sabha by-election held in July this year, had filed an election petition in the Gujarat High Court, claiming that the EC's decision to hold separate bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats violated Constitutional provisions.

Another Congress candidate, Chandrika Chudasama, had filed a similar petition after losing to the BJP's Jugalji Thakor.

In his affidavit, filed in the court of Justice Bela Trivedi, Jaishankar contended that Pandya's petition deserves to be dismissed as it fails to explain precisely how and which provisions of the Constitution or the Representation of the People Act were violated by the EC in holding by-elections.

Jaishankar stated that it has been a consistent practice by the EC since 2009 to issue separate notifications for holding bypolls for casual vacancies in the Rajya Sabha.

The EC, therefore, rightly issued separate notifications for separate seats that have fallen vacant, the reply stated.

Further, the affidavit contended that different seats falling vacant at the same time were required to be treated as one is a misplaced interpretation by the petitioner.

The reply stated that there is no bar on issuance of separate notifications by the EC under the provisions of section 12 of the RP Act.

Notably, a similar affidavit was filed on Monday by second BJP candidate Jugalji Thakor.

Thakor's election to Rajya Sabha was challenged by Congress candidate Chandrika Chudasama on the same grounds.

The elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats of Gujarat, which fell vacant after BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha, were held on July 5.

In his petition, Pandya sought the court's direction to quash the election and notification issued by the EC announcing the holding of polls separately.

He has also sought the court's direction to the poll panel to hold polls to the two seats afresh simultaneously through a single ballot, and not through two ballots.

It claimed that the EC notification was unconstitutional and violated the Representation of People Act, 1951.

As per the Constitution, election to the vacant seats of the Rajya Sabha should be held together so that the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote can be applied, he said in his petition.

The Supreme Court had earlier rejected a plea by the Gujarat Congress just after the EC notification was issued.

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