The Election Commission vide press release dated 01.05.2020 informed that they have reviewed the matter concerning feasibility to conduct biennial election for the nine vacant seats of Member of Legislative council by Member of Legislative Assembly in state of Maharashtra. The Chief Election Commissioner Shri Ashok Lavasa, joined the meeting over video call with two Election Commissioner.

The nine seats of MLC by MLA became vacant on 24.04.2020 in Maharashtra, but amid COVID-19 scenario the Election Commission of India under Article 324 issued an order dated 03.04.2020 to not conduct the elections. On 30.04.2020 the Election Commission received a letter from Chief Secretary of Maharashtra stating that the state government has taken various measures to combat COVID-19 and according to the state government’s assessment the election for the vacant seats can be conducted in safe environment. The State Government ensures the Commission that the state is determined to ensure that the abovementioned election takes place in complete hygienic condition with proper social distancing protocols.

Further, citing the order dated 29.04.2020 of Home Affair Ministry, the State Government gave commitment that it will facilitate and ensure that the elections will be conducted by strictly following all the directions issued so far.

The Commission also received a DO letter dated 30.04.2020 of Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra addressed to Chief Election Commissioner which indicated the feasibility of conducting election in the state. Hon’ble Governor also pointed out that Shri Udhav Balasaheb Thackeray sworn as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 28.11.2019 and as per the constitutional provision the Minister must become a member of either the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council within the six months i.e. on or before 27.05.2020. Further, ensuring the improvement in the ground level situation he requested the Commission to consider the working modalities to hold election. The Commission  also acknowledged the representation made by various political parties advocating to conduct the election.

The Commission taking note of all the above, reviewed the past precedents in such unforeseen situation, where the Commission conducted by-elections to fulfill similar constitutional requirement opined that it has been the consistent practice in the past. Taking all the contention into consideration the Commission decided to conduct the said biennial election in Maharashtra. Further, the Commission decided that the Union Home Secretary must depute an officer of suitable seniority to ensure that the preventive measures according to the Disaster Management Act 2005 is being followed while conducting the electoral process. The Commission  also directed the Chief Secretary to depute an officer from the State to ensure that the extant instructions regarding COVID-19 are followed while making preparation of the said election. The Commission appointed Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra as observer for this election.

Order:EC MH 02.05.2020 PIB

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