The Jharkhand High Court on Thursday directed the Election Commission (EC) to seek a CBI probe into the circumstances leading to the countermanding of the March 30 Rajya Sabha elections held in the State and Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi welcomed the verdict, saying “it is a landmark judgment and it has strengthened our efforts to fight against corruption in polls and use of money power.”

Mr. Quraishi told The Hindu that the Commission itself decided to request for a CBI probe a few days ago. Since the issue had gone to the court, it had kept the decision under wraps and now it would go ahead and seek an investigation by the premier investigation agency.

He warned that the EC would not hesitate to order re-poll if “horse-trading, malpractices and money-power” continued in the re-election too — date for which would be decided soon after reviewing the situation in the State.

“We are interested in a free and fair poll with level-playing field to all the contestants and we are interested in strengthening the democracy and for that we will go to any extent,” he said.

Though the EC had no power to debar a candidate who was caught involved in horse-trading or corrupt activities, it was for the political parties to think over and discourage such contestants, Mr. Quraishi said.

The Commission was planning to call an all-party meeting to discuss various issues, including holding of Rajya Sabha polls (in the light of the Jharkhand episode), electoral reforms, curbing money power in polls and paid news, he added.