Bombay High Court Orders By-Elections for Pune Lok Sabha Seat

Bombay High Court

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Mumbai, 13th December 2023: The Bombay High Court today issued a directive to the Central Election Commission to conduct by-elections for the vacant Pune Lok Sabha constituency, which has remained unrepresented for over eight months following the demise of BJP MP Girish Bapat.

Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata presided over the case and annulled the Commission’s certificate justifying the non-conduct of elections, deeming it arbitrary, in violation of the Representation of the People Act, and illegal.

However, the Central Election Commission argued that scheduling by-elections for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency, vacant since Girish Bapat’s passing, was challenging due to their engagements in other state elections and preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The court questioned this assertion, challenging whether the situation in Pune mirrored the unrest in Manipur, casting doubt on the Commission’s reasoning.

The Commission further argued that even if the by-election occurred, the victorious candidate would hold the seat for a brief period. The petitioner’s counsel objected, emphasizing that the Commission had conducted by-elections in other regions despite the Pune vacancy, a fact duly noted by the court. The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday, with an order for the Commission to submit detailed information through an affidavit.

In light of these developments, during today’s hearing, the court resolved the petition, acknowledging and accepting all the demands put forth by the petitioners.

Following Bapat’s demise, the law mandates holding the by-election for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency within six months. Consequently, the High Court questioned the Central Election Commission on the delay and cautioned that a decision favoring the petitioner should be made if the situation remained unresolved.

The petition, filed by Pune resident Sughosh Joshi, argued that the Commission’s failure to conduct the by-election was illegal and arbitrary. The petitioner sought a court order for the by-election and challenged the certificate obtained by the Commission regarding the non-conduct of elections.