ECI tells #KeralaHighCourt that on the eve of notifying #RajyaSabha elections for 3 vacant seats for members from Kerala retiring on April 21, Union Law & Justice Ministry had raised a question of propriety that popular will not be reflected if RS polls are held on April 12
Union Law & Justice Ministry had requested ECI to revisit the decision to conduct #RajyaSabha polls on April 12 since the Kerala Legislative Assembly elections were on April 6, #KeralaHighCourt told by Election Commission via a statement.
Since this issue of propriety was raised, the ECI kept the initiation notification in abeyance and sought legal opinion from a senior advocate, Advocate Deepu Lal Mohan submits on behalf of ECI

The legal opinion said that it would be just fair and constitutional to announce the #RajyaSabha elections after the new Legislative Assembly is constituted, ECI submits.

ECI counsel adds that Commission ultimately concluded that it is not concerned with which Legislative Assembly nominates the #RajyaSabha MPs and that this cannot be the sole reason to defer the polls, Adv Mohan tells #KeralaHighCourt
ECI counsel adds that thus there were intervening circumstances on the eve of announcing #RajyaSabha polls earlier where Union Ministry of Law and Justice had raised question of propriety.

"That could not be lightly brushed away... legal opinion was sought", Adv Mohan argues.
The Election Commission has acted bonafide in the discharge of its obligation to conduct the #RajyaSabha elections as early as possible. Adv Mohan adds that there is no outer limit for the announcement of the polls

Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan: This statement is quite an intriguing statement. The silence is pregnant and speaks volumes. They say there is a silence for terminal point for notifying election. Please see, they (ECI) say we are not concerned about which assembly elects.
Vaidyanathan (for petitioner): The new Assembly will come after May 2… in a couple of days. If by 21st April (retirement of the #RajyaSabha MPs from Kerala) they have to notify elections, the nominations have to be filed in one week. Who are the persons who … will nominate?
Vaidyanathan: The present assembly members are those who will be proposing...You will have one set of electors who will be proposing and another who will be electing (if the #RajyaSabha polls are deferred)
Vaidyanathan: I am grateful the ECI saying that they are independent, that they don't follow what the Senior Counsel says (in his legal opinion) What is preventing them from notifying? They can’t be playing games.

Mohan (for ECI) reiterates that ECI has acted in a bonafide manner, refers to a Madras High Court judgment.

Mohan: (ECI is) not at all in the dictates of the Ministry of Law and Justice... it is only because of the intervening circumstances...

Vaidyanathan: You (ECI) have decided that the (reasons of the Union Law Ministry) was not acceptable. You have decided that the advice of the lawyer is not acceptable. You have taken a decision to notify. What is withholding you?
Vaidyanathan: You should straightway notify. What is holding you back? That is mysterious, that is where there is a lack of bonafide.

Vaidyanathan: What is holding their hands back from signing the notification? That is the mysterious hand holding the ECI back...

Vaidyanathan: ... direction will have to be issued... that current assembly member will be in a position to vote. It is essential that the electoral process is completed before May 2.

Senior Adv NN Sugunapalan supports Vaidyanathan's submissions, urges #KeralaHighCourt to issue a direction for the #RajyaSabha elections to be held in that timeframe as mandated by the Constitution
ASG appears for Centre, argues that it is wrong to suggest that Union Law ministry was trying to "arm twist" ECI. Recalls that it was suggested that initial date of polls be revisited since popular will of Legislative Assembly may not be reflected if RS polls are held on April 12
ASG: There was a genuine concern

He adds that if #RajyaSabha polls were to be held on April 12, there is a possibility that RS members elected by current Legislative Assembly would occupy a term longer than the present Assembly, which may not reflect the popular will of people.
ASG submits that Election Commission is an independent body, it consulted a senior lawyer on the issue, Centre has not tried to arm twist.

There should not be any aspersions cast on the Central govt, it is the petitioner that is trying to arm twist the ECI, ASG adds.
Mohan: What is being adjudicated here? The legality of press note keeping in abeyance .. reasons have now been disclosed.. we have taken all steps to notify the elections. But because of intervening circumstances, we had to deliberate.


#KeralaHighCourt reserves orders on petitions challenging notification keeping in abeyance #RajyaSabha elections for 3 seats from Kerala which will fall vacant on April 21, 2021.

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