Karnal By-Election Petition Dismissed, Haryana Government Receives Relief from High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has provided significant relief to the Haryana Government by dismissing a petition challenging the Karnal assembly by-election. This dismissal clears the path for the upcoming by-election.

During the hearing, the Election Commission pointed out that the petition was based on the decision of the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur Bench to cancel a by-election for a Maharashtra assembly seat in Akola. The Commission mentioned its intention to challenge this decision in the Supreme Court, noting that the by-election was canceled due to the assembly’s term being less than one year away from completion.

The petitioner, a resident of Karnal named Kunal, had informed the High Court that the then Chief Minister Manohar Lal had resigned on March 13, and resigned from the assembly membership the day after passing a vote of confidence. This led to the Karnal assembly seat becoming vacant. Subsequently, Naib Saini was appointed as the Chief Minister of Haryana, and the Election Commission announced a by-election for the Karnal assembly seat. The petitioner argued that under Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act, the Election Commission does not have the authority to conduct a by-election if the assembly’s term is less than one year.

Referring to the Akola assembly constituency in Maharashtra, the petitioner mentioned that the Election Commission had scheduled an election on April 26 after announcing it on March 15. This decision was challenged in the Bombay High Court, which canceled the election notification based on the assembly term being less than a year from completion, leading the Commission to halt the by-election for the Akola constituency on March 27. The petitioner claimed that the interpretation of Section 151-A of the Representation of the People Act is straightforward and clear, without any ambiguity. They argued that the Election Commission had already complied with the Bombay High Court’s decision, and a similar approach should have been taken in the Karnal case since the notifications for both by-elections were issued simultaneously. The petitioner appealed to the High Court to cancel the Karnal by-election.

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The Election Commission revealed its plan to file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the Bombay High Court’s decision, arguing that the Karnal by-election should not be canceled based on that ruling. The Haryana Government also presented its arguments, stating that it is not the first time by-elections have been held after the selection of a Chief Minister.

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