EC says it cannot hold bypolls in June-July due to Covid risk | India News

BHOPAL: Election Commission of India has not announced bypolls in eight assembly seats across the country, including Joura in Madhya Pradesh, because the Commission “could not initiate the poll process within the prescribed time limit due to the measures to contain Covid 19” and “owing to the risk of spreading of infection due to large scale public contact and gathering of people during the poll process.”
The state Congress on June 9 shot a letter to the Election Commission office here asking for bypolls in Joura and Agar-Malwa assembly seats which fell vacant in December and January. Congress argued that Joura fell vacant on December 21 last year after the death of MLA Banwarilal Sharma and Agar Malwa was vacated in January 31 after demise of MLA Manohar Utwal. State Congress legal cell chief JP Dhanopia wrote to the EC that under provisions of People’s Representation Act 1951, section 151 A, a vacant seat has to be filled within six months.
Going by the Act, Joura get its MLA by June 20 and Agar-Malwa by July 30 but the by-elections have not been announced. Replying to the Congress’ letter the EC sent a copy of its letter to the Union ministry of law and justice regarding the vacancies in eight assembly seats vacated between December 10 last year to January 6 this year, in which Jaura is one of the seats. Since Agar-Malwa was vacated on Januray 31, it did not figure in the list.
The other seats mentioned are Rangapara in Assam, Kuttanad in Kerala, Southern Angami -1 in Nagaland, Pungro-Kiphire also in Nagaland, Bangermau in Uttar Pradesh, Suar in Uttar Pradesh and Dumka in Jharkhand.
Writing to the Union ministry of law and justice, the ECI argued it could not hold bypolls as nation was under lockdown from March 24 to May 31. The letter said, “And whereas the Commission had consulted the chief electoral officers of the concerned states on 22.05.2020.” The electoral officers had raised certain difficulties in holding by-election in June-July.
The difficulties pointed out were adhering to the social distancing directions of the government during the campaign period, transportation of polling parties and polling material while following social distancing norms, special arrangements of polling stations under containment areas and red zones, movement of migrant labour in large numbers and increase in Covid 19 cases which have affected the capacity of district administration who mobilise resources on the ground during polls and impending monsoons.
ECI also told the ministry that it reviewed the situation “and is of the opinion that under these circumstances, it would not be possible to hold by-elections” in the states due to “problem of logistics, preparation of EVM and VVPAT and training of electoral machinery on the new protocol considering the pandemic and the possible risk of infection due to large scale public contact and gatherings.”



[Source :Times of India]

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