The Election Commission has decided to hold by-elections to fill 30 vacancies in three parliamentary constituencies of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and assembly constituencies of different states.
“The Commission has reviewed the response from the States/UTs concerned to the pandemic, floods, festivals, cold conditions in certain areas and took into account all the facts and circumstances and decided to hold by-elections to fill up the vacancies in the three Parliamentary Constituencies. The decision has been taken to fill 30 vacancies in the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, constituencies of Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and Vidhan Sabha constituencies of different states,” the Election Commission said in a statement.
The Calcutta High Court said that the by-polls to the Bhawanipur assembly seat, being contested by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, will be held on September 30 as per the schedule.
“Since the process of election was initiated with the issuance of a press note on September 4, 2021, and the voting is to be held on September 30, 2021, we do not find it appropriate to interfere with the decision of the Election Commission. Bhawanipur at this stage By-election for the assembly constituency,” the high court said.
However, the court took a strong note of the conduct of the chief secretary for his letter to the Election Commission citing emergency in holding elections in Bhabnipur constituency “in view of the constitutional requirement”.
“He (Chief Secretary) is a public servant who has to discharge his duties in accordance with the provisions of law, whoever is in power. He does not have to ensure that any particular person comes to power and in absence there is a ‘constitutional crisis’, The court further said.
The court passed this order on a PIL filed by Sayan Banerjee. The petitioner claimed that the Election Commission, in a press note, had said that it has decided to hold the by-election in Bhabnipur constituency “considering the constitutional requirement and special request of the State of West Bengal”.
The petitioner alleged that the letter from the Chief Secretary of the State was a clear violation of the provisions of the Indian Constitution.
The Election Commission, on its part, said that the petitioner was trying to misrepresent the meaning of the word “constitutional imperative”. The Election Commission said that there is no possibility of this being imposed as an influence on the voters.
Bypolls to the Bhabnipur seat, represented by Mamata Banerjee in 2011 and 2016, were necessitated following the resignation of TMC’s Sovandeb Chattopadhyay to facilitate the election of the TMC chief to the assembly.