The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the Election Commission's decision to conduct an election on May 4 to fill up the sole vacancy in the Maharashtra Legislative Council for which Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is contesting.
A three-judge bench of justices J M Panchal, Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan, however, allowed the petitioner, Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Council Anil Dattatray Parab, to implead the chief minister and issued a notice to the Election Commission. The petition had accused the poll body of having a 'nexus' with the ruling party to facilitate Chavan's election.
The petition alleged that the EC was going ahead with the May 4 poll by seeking permission of the Bombay High Court, despite the fact that a petition challenging the election of Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt was pending before the latter. Dutt has vacated the seat to facilitate Chavan's election.
"This purported urgency shown by the Office of the Election Commissioner, it is most respectfully submitted, is not only contrary to the stand taken by its counsel in Election Commission of India vs Telangana Rastra Samithi, but also reflects the unholy and extra-constitutional nexus between itself and the ruling party, thereby, casting serious doubts on its independent status," stated the petition.
"The honourable high court has failed to appreciate this inconsistency in the stand taken by the Election Commissioner," the petition stated.
Chavan, earlier a minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office who replaced Ashok Chavan as the chief minister of Maharashtra on November 11 last year, is required constitutionally to get elected to either houses of the State Legislature on or before May 11.
The commission had to seek permission to hold the elections as Parab had in January this year challenged the June 2010 MLC elections, in which four Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLAs were allowed to vote despite being under suspension.
Parab, in his special leave petition, submitted that the high court order had failed to take into consideration a Supreme Court judgement in the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi case that casual vacancy could not be filled up when election petitions were pending in the court.
He said the SLP raised important questions of law as to whether the Commissions stand in the pending election petitions reflected an unholy and extra-constitutional nexus between itself and the ruling party, thereby, casting serious doubts on its independent status.
He alleged that the earlier MLC elections left no room for doubt that this was a classic case of corrupt practice.
There is an open admission that the 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, he alleged.