EC defers Legislative Council election in UP, Bihar due to coronavirus pandemic

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has deferred the process of biennial election to the legislative councils of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar due to the coronavirus pandemic. A statement issued by the apex poll body said, “The Election Commission, invoking its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution, has ordered has ordered that the process of biennial election to the legislative councils of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (Teachers` and Graduates` constituencies) shall be initiated at a later date.’’

The poll panel had also further postponed the elections to the Rajya Sabha in the view of coronavirus outbreak. The fresh dates will be announced later, it said.

The election for 18 Rajya Sabha seats was earlier scheduled to be held on March 26.

While 17 members from six states are retiring on April 9, one from Meghalaya is retiring on April 12. The 18 seats are spread across Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Meghalaya.

In a statement, the Commission said 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.

“The commission has reviewed the current unforeseen situation of public health emergency and the feasibility of completing the poll process for the aforesaid election.

“The commission, after taking all facts and circumstances in view, is of the considered view 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 statement said.

The EC said the elections to the 28 seats cannot be completed within its “scheduled term”.

“Commission invoking its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution of India read with section 153 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 has further extended the period of election beyond the prescribed term(s) of the above-mentioned seats,” it said.

Elections to fill up 55 seats in the Upper House of Parliament were to be held on March 26 through 37 candidates have already been elected without a contest.