Monday, March 4, 2024

Delhi High Court disposes of plea seeking simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly; says not lawmakers 

The High Court of Delhi on Monday disposed of a petition that sought directions to the Central government and the Election Commission of India to ascertain the feasibility of conducting elections to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly together in 2024.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad rejected the plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, saying that the Judges were not lawmakers. 
Stating that the High Court had its own limitations, the Bench noted that it was the responsibility of the courts to ensure compliance of law, but they could not such a mandamus. 
Calling it the master of elections, the High Court directed the ECI to consider the PIL as representation and decide on the same in accordance with law
It observed that such matters could only be decided by lawmakers and not by the courts, adding that the HIgh Court could not curtail the term of Assemblies. 
The petition further sought conduct of elections on holidays, including Saturdays and Sundays, in order to save the ‘valuable’ time of schools, colleges, universities, service industries and manufacturing organisations.
The Bench rejected this ground too, observing that being a constitutional body, the decision to schedule the elections had to be taken by the ECI.
The Counsel appearing for the Commission submitted that it was ‘logistically’ possible for ECI to conduct elections as prayed in the plea. 
However, it was within the domain of the legislature to consider the amendments, which would have to be made in the Constitution and the Representation of Peoples Act.

He then referred to the 2002 verdict of the Supreme Court in Gujarat Assembly case, regarding the prayer to conduct elections on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Counsel submitted that the Apex Court had held in 2002 that an election schedule could not be subjected to judicial review, since it fell in the domain of the ECI.
The petition filed by the BJP leader had contended that having the two polls together would save public money, apart from reducing the burden on security forces, public administration and staff of the ECI, who had to organise booths, electronic voting machines and voter slips.
The plea submitted that the imposition of Model Code of Conduct had delayed the implementation of both Central and state government projects and welfare schemes, thus taking away time and effort from governance issues.


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