EC defers Rajya Sabha poll in view of COVID-19

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Election Commission of India has further extended the period of Rajya Sabha election beyond the prescribed term(s) of 18 seats across seven States in view of the lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The EC has earlier issued a notification for holding elections to Rajya Sabha on March 6 to fill up 55 seats, from 17 States, of Members retiring in the month of April 2020. After the last date of withdrawal on March 18, 2020, respective Returning Officers declared 37 seats from 10 States filled as uncontested. Thereafter as per the reports received from the concerned Returning Officers, the biennial elections for 18 seats from the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Rajasthan were to be conducted on March 26, 2020, and election process was to be completed by March 30, 2020.

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The validity of the term of the 18 remaining seats to be completed by April 9, 2020, is as follows:

  1. Andhra Pradesh          –          04
  2. Jharkhand                  –          02
  3. Madhya Pradesh         –          03
  4. Manipur                      –          01
  5. Rajasthan                   –          03
  6. Gujarat                       –          04

The term of the lone seat from Meghalaya is to be expired on April 12, 2020, totalling to 18. Hence, Election Commission of India vides notification dated 24.03.2020, in view of unforeseen public health emergency emerging from COVID-19 and invoking section 153 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 had extended the period of completion of the election including postponing the date of poll and counting concerning elections to the Council of States, since the electoral process necessarily involves movement and gathering of polling officials, agents of political parties, support officials and members of respective Legislative Assemblies on the poll day, which may put public safety at risk and create a public health hazard.  

Commission has now further reviewed the prevailing situation after taking all facts and circumstances in view and concluded that continuing electoral process in the current environment may not be feasible in view of the restrictions for the maintenance of public safety and avoiding health hazard.

The list of contesting candidates, already published for the said elections by the respective Returning Officers shall remain valid for the purposes of remaining activities, as prescribed under the said notifications. Fresh date of poll and counting for the said biennial elections shall be intimated in due course after reviewing the prevailing situation.