Punjab & Haryana HC Dismisses Plea Against Karnal Bypoll Notification

The Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed a petition on Wednesday seeking directions to set aside the Election Commission’s March 16 notification announcing the bypoll for the Karnal assembly seat.
On Tuesday, a bench of Justices Sudhir Singh and Harsh Bunger had reserved its verdict on a plea of a Karnal resident seeking directions to set aside the notification.

The BJP has nominated Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, who is also an MP from Kurukshetra in the outgoing Lok Sabha, for the bypoll for the Karnal assembly seat, which was vacated by his predecessor Manohar Lal Khattar.

The bypoll is slated to occur on May 25 concurrently with the polling for the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana.

As per the petitioner’s assertion, the EC neglected to take into account section 151 (A) of the Representation of People’s Act, which encompasses a proviso (a) stating that if the remaining duration of the member’s term concerning the vacancy is less than one year, the bypoll may be exempted.

The section mandates that a by-election to fill vacancies must be conducted within six months from the date of the vacancy, except when the remaining tenure of the member is less than one year.

The petitioner, a resident of Karnal, contended that the new member would effectively serve for only about two months following the bypoll.

“The petition has been dismissed. We are awaiting the copy of the order,” stated Advocate Simarpal Singh, representing the petitioner.

Last month, the BJP replaced Khattar, aged 69, with OBC leader Saini, aged 54, as Haryana’s chief minister in a swift transition within the state. Khattar, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections, is the BJP’s candidate from the Karnal parliamentary seat. Having resigned as MLA on March 13, Khattar remarked, “From today, our chief minister (Saini) will oversee the Karnal assembly constituency.”
Saini, who assumed office as the chief minister on March 12, must secure election as an MLA within six months. As per the petition submitted by Kunal Chanana, 29, the Haryana assembly was constituted on November 4, 2019, and its term is set to expire on November 3, 2024.

Haryana Assembly elections are scheduled for October 2024.

The petitioner argued that since the incoming elected member would have only a brief tenure of approximately two months, there is no justification for significant financial expenditure.

The high court was also apprised that the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had recently invalidated an Election Commission (EC) notification declaring the bypoll for Maharashtra’s Akola West assembly constituency on April 26.

In that instance as well, the petitioner, a resident of Akola, contended that the remaining tenure of the new MLA would be less than one year.

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