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Supreme Court stays Talala bypoll, seeks reply from Election Commission

EC had declared the bypoll on March 10 in a "haste" after assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi disqualified Barad on March 5 post his conviction by a Sutrapada court in a mineral theft case on March 1.

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In a major relief for disqualified Congress MLA Bhaga Barad, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday stayed the by-election announced by the Election Commission (EC) for his Talala constituency and sought a reply from the poll panel in this regard.

EC had declared the bypoll on March 10 in a "haste" after assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi disqualified Barad on March 5 post his conviction by a Sutrapada court in a mineral theft case on March 1. The bypoll was supposed to take place on April 23 along with voting for all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Barad had moved the Supreme Court against the Gujarat High Court's refusal to stay the bypoll on the ground that as on March 27, when the latter pronounced its verdict, there was no stay operational on his conviction. The high court had also refused to consider the argument forwarded by the Congress leader that the EC is supposed to be neutral body and should not have announced the bypoll, especially considering the fact that a stay on his conviction was granted by the Veraval sessions court on March 7, which was operational when the bypoll was announced.

Notably, Barad has been fighting tooth-and-nail against his disqualification and subsequent declaration of the bypoll, and had earlier submitted to the high court that the poll panel never showed such a hurry when BJP leaders were convicted by court. Both, the state government and the election commission, had argued that conviction automatically leads to disqualification and vacation of seats, and therefore, EC can declare bypoll for such seats, irrespective of any stay on the conviction.

As per case details, after Barad was successful in getting a stay on his conviction from the Veraval sessions court, the state government moved the high court and a single-judge bench of the court set-aside the stay on the ground that it was devoid of reasons. The single-judge also remanded the matter back to the sessions court for a fresh hearing. However, the hearing in the sessions court could not take place as scheduled on March 25 as the judge, hearing the case, went on a leave till April 1.

In the meantime, Barad moved a petition before a division bench of the high court for relief. The division bench ruled against the Congress leader, which was challenged by him before the apex court.

IN A 'HASTE'

  • EC had declared the bypoll on March 10 in a “haste” after assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi disqualified Barad on March 5 post his conviction by a Sutrapada court in a mineral theft case on March 1 
     
  • The bypoll was supposed to take place on April 23 along with voting for all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state
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