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Opinion

No rule violated in RS Gujarat election: Jaishankar to SC

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Foreign Minister S Jaishankar defended his election to Gujarat’s Rajya Sabha in the Supreme Court last year, stating that the voting procedure adopted by the electoral commission does not violate any laws or constitutional provisions.

In filing his affidavit in response to a petition by the defeated Congress party candidate Gaurav Hemantbhai Pandya, the minister accused Pandya of “abusing the legal process” by filing various electoral petitions in the high court.

Jaishankar also stressed that the congressional leader’s appeal against Gujarat’s high court order is based on “misrepresentation of facts and incorrect understanding of the law.”

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What is at the center of the controversy is the election commission’s decision to hold separate elections for the two RS seats vacated by Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani in May 2019. It was held on the same day but by separate votes and both seats were won by the candidates presented by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) – Jaishankar and Jugal M Lokhandwala. Congress expected to obtain at least one RS seat on the basis of a single transferable vote if the elections for both seats had been held together. The defeated congressional candidates, including Pandya, had been transferred to the high court, which refused to heed their requests. Later, they presented their appeals to the Supreme Court.

On November 18, a SC bank, headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, sent a notice to Jaishankar. At the time, lead advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Pandya, claimed that the petition raised important legal questions about the power of the electoral commission to vote separately for random vacancies that arise simultaneously.

The SC will take up Jaishankar’s response on Monday when the matter goes to hearing.

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