An unprecedented legal situation confronts the Election Commission with the Madhya Pradesh assembly restoring terminated membership of two Congress legislators.
It is for the first time since independence that such a thing has happened. “We don’t know under which rule the state assembly has restored the membership,” was a stark reaction of a senior EC official, expressed his anguish at the sudden change of events.The MP assembly had terminated membership of the two Congress MLAs --- Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi and Kalpana Parulekar --- on July 18, after which the EC had declared the seats vacant. Once the seats are declared vacant, they can be filled only through an election.
On Friday, MP legislative assembly restored their membership in a five minute special session, which the assembly speaker Ishwardas Rohani declared as a “historic day in the Parliamentary history” of the country.
Soon after the development was reported, the Election Commission has sought a report from state chief electoral officer with the copy of the resolution passed in the house. “We have to consider whether the commission can de-notify its decision to declare the two assembly seats vacant,” the official said.
The Representation of People’s Act allows filling of the vacant Parliament and legislative assembly seats only through elections. It is, however, silent on the situation created by Madhya Pradesh state assembly.
The EC was in the process of declaring by-elections to the two seats and termed the situation as unprecedented saying it was for the first time that membership of terminated members have been restored. The Commission is expected to take a view only after receiving a report from its Madhya Pradesh office.
The Madhya Pradesh assembly decision has been challenged in the state high court on the ground that terminated membership cannot be restored.