BJP’s Harsh Mahajan seeks more time to reply in court for plea challenging Himachal Rajya Sabha election - Hindustan Times
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BJP’s Harsh Mahajan seeks more time to reply in court for plea challenging Himachal Rajya Sabha election

By, Shimla
May 24, 2024 01:20 PM IST

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi filed a petition in the high court challenging the interpretation of drawing of lots rules by the election officer following a tie in the Himachal Rajya Sabha election

Himachal Pradesh high court on Thursday fixed the next date of hearing on the petition challenging the Rajya Sabha election process for June 9.

BJP’s Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Harsh Mahajan. (HT File)
BJP’s Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Harsh Mahajan. (HT File)

The case was heard before the single bench of Jyotsana Rewal Dua, with Rajya Sabha member Harsh Mahajan seeking more time to file his reply in the court.

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Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court, filed a petition in the high court challenging the interpretation of drawing of lots rules by the election officer following a tie in the Rajya Sabha poll.

Singhvi, a Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha, and his rival Bharatiya Janata Party’s Harsh Mahajan polled 34 votes each in February’s election and the result was declared through a draw of lots. Mahajan had been declared the winner in the tiebreaker.

Singhvi had challenged the procedure followed by the returning officer while declaring Mahajan the winner, maintaining that section 65 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, was contrary when the elections were held for Rajya Sabha to the Lok Sabha polls. The conduct of election rules has a provision for the draw of lots for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections in case of a tie. The key difference, he argues, is that in Rajya Sabha polls, the candidate whose slip is drawn loses the election, whereas in the Lok Sabha, the candidate whose slip is drawn wins.

The polls to Rajya Sabha were held on February 27. The seat had fallen vacant after BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda’s term expired. Nadda was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and the BJP fielded Harsh Mahajan from Himachal instead.

The Congress, which had 40 MLAs in the assembly, meanwhile, fielded Singhvi, expecting him to win comfortably. During the voting for the Rajya Sabha seat, however, six Congress MLAs and three Independents supporting the government recast their ballots for Mahajan, resulting in the tie.

The six MLAs, including Sudhir Sharma, Rajender Rana, Ravi Thakur, Inderdutt Lakhanpal, Devender Bhutto, and Chaitanya Sharma, were later disqualified from the house under the anti-defection law for defying the whip when the finance bill was being passed. All the six of them are now contesting by-polls to the assembly on BJP tickets.

The by-polls to six assembly segments will be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections on June 1.

The three independents Ashish Sharma, Hoshiyar Singh and K.L Thakur also resigned from the assembly, but their resignation has yet not been accepted. They have also joined the BJP.

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