Why you showed haste in declaring by-poll in Talala: Gujarat HC asks ECI

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court today hit out at the Election Commission (ECI) for showing haste in announcement of by-poll schedule for Talal assembly seat in Saurashtra region of the state.

Hearing the petition of disqualified Congress MLA from Talala seat Bhagwan Barad, the court of Justice S R Brahmbhatt also questioned as to why the commission did not file its reply on affidavit.

The court is likely to hear the matter again tomorrow after receiving the reply on affidavit of the commission.

The court said that when the lower court order convicting Barad for 2 years and 9 months was stayed by another superior court why the commission did not considered it.The court also asked some pinching questions to the commission with regard to following the proper procedure in this matter.

By poll for Talala seat has been declared and is to take place on April 23 when such by poll on some other seats in the state necessitated due to resignation of Congress MLAs and Loksabha poll on all the 26 seats would take place.

Notably, Barad had on March 11 moved Gujarat High court to challenge the decision of assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi who had disqualified him on March 5 after a local court in Sutrapada town in Gir Somnath district convicted him with 2 years 9 months jail term in a mineral theft case. The court of Judicial Magistrate on March 1 held him guilty under section 379 (theft) and 420 (cheating) and sentenced him with 2 year 9 month jail term in connection with the case pertaining to theft of mineral (limestone) worth over 2.5 crore from a Gochar (cow-pasture) land in Sutrapada in 1995. Barad however got bail in the case. Later the sessions court stayed this order.

The state government also approached the High court challenging this stay saying that the sessions court has not mentioned any reason for it. The court of Justice Sonia Gokani had heard it and in her order dated March 15 revoked it saying that no reason has been assigned for it.

“As per the Supreme Court judgment of July 2013, Congress MLA from Talala, Barad has been declared disqualified as a member of the Assembly subsequent to his conviction by a trial court in Sutrapada in Gir Somnath district on March 1,” a notification issued by the office of the speaker on March 5 read.

Notably as the section 8(3) of the Representation of the people Act 1951 A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.