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Punjab and Haryana HC dismisses petition challenging EC notification for Karnal bypoll

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Chandigarh, Apr 3 (PTI) The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition which had sought directions to set aside the Election Commission's March 16 notification announcing the bypoll for the Karnal assembly seat.

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On Tuesday, a division bench comprising Justices Sudhir Singh and Harsh Bunger had reserved its verdict on a plea seeking directions to set aside the notification.

The BJP has fielded Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, who is also an MP from Kurukshetra in the outgoing Lok Sabha, for the bypoll for the Karnal assembly seat, vacated by his predecessor Manohar Lal Khattar.

The bypoll is scheduled to be held on May 25 along with the polling for the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana.

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According to the submission of the petitioner, the EC failed to consider section 151 (A) of the Representation of People's Act, which includes a proviso (a) that if the remainder of the member's term in relation to the vacancy is less than one year, the bypoll need not be held.

The section stipulates that a by-election for filling vacancies must be held within six months from the date of vacancy, except when the remaining term of the member is less than one year.

The new member will effectively have only about two months in office after the bypoll, the petitioner, a Karnal resident, submitted.

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"The petition has been dismissed. The copy of the order is awaited," Advocate Simarpal Singh, the counsel for the petitioner, said.

The BJP had last month replaced Khattar, 69, with OBC leader Saini, 54, as Haryana's chief minister in a swift switch in the state.

Khattar is contesting the Lok Sabha polls and is BJP's candidate from Karnal parliamentary seat.

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Resigning as MLA on March 13, Khattar had said, "from today, our chief minister (Saini) will look after the Karnal assembly constituency." Saini, who was sworn in as the chief minister on March 12, needs to get elected as an MLA within six months.

According to the petition filed by Kunal Chanana, 29, the Haryana assembly was formed on November 4, 2019, and its term is lapsing on November 3, 2024. Haryana Assembly polls are due in October 2024.

Since the incoming elected member would scarcely have a period of approximately two months, there is no justification for a significant financial outlay for a truncated tenure, the petitioner argued.

The high court was also informed that Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench had last month set aside an Election Commission notification announcing the bypoll for Maharashtra's Akola West assembly constituency on April 26.

In that case too, the petitioner, an Akola resident, argued that the remaining tenure of the new MLA will be less than one year. PTI SUN VSD VN VN

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