Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will no longer need to seek the governor's nomination to become a member of the state Legislative Council.
The Bombay high court on Wednesday allowed the Election Commission (EC) to hold by-election for a seat that was vacated by Congress member Sanjay Dutt to allow Chavan to get elected to the upper house.
Legally, a chief minister has to become a member of either house of the state legislature within six months from the date of his swearing in, failing which he would cease to continue in the post.
Chavan took over as the chief minister after incumbent Ashok Chavan resigned over the Adarsh Housing Society scam in November 2010. The chief minister has time till May 10 to became a member of either house.
Last month, Dutt vacated his seat so that Chavan could fulfill the legal mandate. However, since his election was under challenge, the EC had moved the high court seeking permission to go ahead with the by-election.
The commission had to seek permission since Shiv Sena candidate Anil Parab had challenged the June 2010 Legislative Council elections on various grounds.
Justice RP Sondurbaldota allowed the plea considering primarily that there was no possibility of setting aside Dutt's election, even if Parab's election petition is allowed in toto.
During the course of the hearing, Parab's counsel PM Pradhan also candidly admitted that there was no possibility of setting aside or touching Dutt's election.
Pradhan also failed to tell the court as to which constituency he had sought himself to be declared elected from.
Pradhan had taken strong objection to the EC's plea contending that the high court could not grant permission to hold a by-election when an election petition concerning the constituency was pending for its consideration.
In support of his contention, Pradhan had cited an apex court judgment delivered in Telangana Rashtra Samithi's case.
Counsel for the commission, V Rajgopal, contended that the judgment was not applicable since the petitioner candidates had a chance of succeeding in the election petition and getting declared elected by the court.
Advocate general Ravi Kadam, who represented Sanjay Dutt, said the EC was statutorily bound to hold by-election within a stipulated period. "A statutory amendment has been introduced in the Representation of Peoples Act, 1959, in order to ensure that no constituency remains unrepresentative for more than six months," he said.
He further contended that even if the court allowed Parab's election petition, Dutt's win could not be set aside considering the voting pattern.