The biennial election to the two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand, which was countermanded over allegations of use of money-power and horse-trading, will now be held afresh on May 3, the Election Commission announced on Tuesday.
The three-member commission decided the fresh dates in its meeting held today and a notification for the same would be issued on April 16, starting the process for filing of nominations.
The earlier notification of March 12 for holding biennial election to fill the two vacancies from Jharkhand was rescinded by President Pratibha Patil on March 31, following a recommendation by the EC in the wake of allegations of use of money power in the poll held on March 30.
As per the fresh schedule, the nominations can now be filed up to April 23 and scrutiny will be done the next day.
The EC has fixed April 26 as the last date for withdrawal of nominations and polling would be held on May 3 between 9 am to 4 pm. Counting will be held on the same day at 5 pm.
The term of office of two members of the Council of States elected from Jharkhand was due to expire on April 2 due to the retirement of Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia and Mabel Rebello. The EC has said that the election process has to be completed by May 5.
The Election Commission has already written to the government for a CBI probe into the events that led to the countermand of Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand.
The decision came after the Jharkhand high court asked the commission to constitute a probe. In a letter to Secretary, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, the EC asked for a CBI probe into the RS poll which was countermanded because it was vitiated.
"Having regard to the above facts and circumstances, the commission desires that the whole matter relating to elections to the Rajya Sabha be entrusted to the CBI for a through investigation and for bringing the culprits to book so that the pristine purity of elections to the Rajya Sabha is maintained and the glory and prestige of the Upper House of Parliament, known as the House of Elders, is not tarnished by the entry of those who have secured election by unfair means of bribery of voters," the EC wrote to the government in a letter.
A large amount of cash was seized in Ranchi on the day of polling, after which the EC had concluded it "is satisfied that the current election process for Rajya Sabha election from Jharkhand has been seriously vitiated and cannot be permitted to proceed."
The Jharkhand high court, while disposing of two petitions challenging the EC's decision to countermand the RS poll in Jharkhand, had observed in its order "since it is a grave case of involvement of money power, horse-trading and influence relating to the process of election of Council of States, wherein voters are Members of Legislative Assembly, we deem it proper to direct the Election Commission to hand over the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation so far as criminality of any other persons is involved."
Citing examples of the past from many states where use of money power has helped some get elected to the Rajya Sabha, the poll commission said, "The pernicious role of money power in Rajya Sabha elections has been reported not only from Jharkhand but similar disturbing news have reached the commission from some other states also."