New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay a Bombay High Court order permitting the Election Commission to fill a vacancy in the Maharashtra Legislative Council. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is contesting the May 4 election 4 for the seat.
At the same time, a Bench of Justices J.M. Panchal, Deepak Verma and B.S. Chauhan issued notice to the Commission and other respondents returnable on May 6. The Bench directed the petitioner, the former Shiv Sena MLC, Anil Dattatray Parab, to file an application to implead Mr. Prithviraj Chavan as one of the respondents in his Special Leave Petition.
Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, who was a Rajya Sabha member and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office before he replaced Ashok Chavan as Chief Minister on November 11, 2010, is required constitutionally to get elected to either House of the Legislature by May 11.
To facilitate his election, the Election Commission moved the High Court and it granted permission for filling the vacancy in the Council, caused by the resignation of Congress member Sanjay Dutt. Mr. Parab's appeal is directed against this order, dated April 13.
The Commission had to seek court permission to hold the election as Mr. Parab challenged in January this year the June 2010 Council polls, in which four MLAs of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were allowed to vote despite their being under suspension.
Mr. Parab contended that the High Court order had failed to take into consideration a Supreme Court judgment holding that a casual vacancy could not be filled up when election petitions were pending in court.
He said the SLP raised important questions of law, whether the Commission's stand on the pending petitions reflected an unholy and extra-constitutional nexus between it and the ruling party, thereby casting serious doubts on its independent status.Mr. Parab alleged that the previous Council election was a classic case of corrupt practice.
There was an open admission that 13 MNS MLAs had voted for the ruling party to ensure his defeat and, in return, the ruling party agreed to revoke/cancel the suspension of the four MLAs. Also, the transfer of votes in the first and second rounds of counting was done in a complete departure from Election Conduct Rules, 1961.