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Setback for Okram Henry, SC junks plea seeking relaxation of 6-month condition to continue as minister

Supreme Court of India

“We are not a one stop solution for every problem in the country.” CJI remarked. The bench, however, granted Okram Henry the liberty to withdraw the plea and approach the High Court

TFM Desk

MAHUD minister Okram Henry Singh attempt to continue as minister by filing a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a relaxation of the six months conditions mentioned in Article 164 (4) suffered a setback on Wednesday.

A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian refused to entertain his plea, reported on Wednesday.

In the plea, Okram Henry also sought a direction to the Election Commission of India to hold a bypoll in the 15-Wangkhei Assembly constituency.

The bench, however, granted Okram Henry the liberty to withdraw the plea and approach the High Court. The present plea sought that the elections be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Section 151 A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.

The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Vinay Navare and Advocates Anish R Shah and Abdulrahiman Tamboli before the SC.

According to report, the Bench inquired if the plea has become infructuous during the hearing. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing on behalf of the petitioner responded by stating that, they have one prayer which survives. He added that the elections have to be held in six months, unless it is not physically possible to hold elections.

“More than six months have lapsed, why isn’t the Election Commission holding elections, so I can contest again?” Rohatgi remarked. The Bench then asked the petitioner to approach the High Court instead.

“We are not a one stop solution for every problem in the country.” CJI remarked. “One stop shop as we say,” Rohatgi responded.

Okram Henry sought a relaxation of the six-month conditions in view of the situation arising out of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The plea stated that Okram Henry was elected as a MLA from the 15-Wangkhei Assembly Constituency by a considerable margin of votes, and his term was originally from March, 2017 to March, 2022. At the time of getting elected, he belonged to the Indian National Congress Party (INC) but due to some ideological differences, the he resigned as MLA of Congress and joined another political party in August, 2020.

The petitioner has argued that in the case of the said causal vacancy having arisen, the EC is under an obligation to conduct by-election within a period of six months.

Okram Henry has further stated that he was appointed as a Cabinet Minister in the State on September24, 2020, and therefore he cannot continue as a Minister beyond six months from the said date, since he is not a Member of the Legislature of the State. The situation has arisen due to Election Commission’s failure in fulfilling its obligation to conduct by-elections within six months of 11.08.2020.

According to the petitioner, the Election Commission of India is not conducting the by-elections in view of the fact that the Election Petition challenging Petitioner’s election is pending before the Manipur High Court. However, the pleadings there are complete and despite a mandatory provision to complete trial of the election period within a period of six months, it’s been pending for the past four years.

The petitioner also submitted that Section 151 A is mandatory in character, which mandates the Election Commission of India to hold and conduct by-elections within a period of six months from arising of causal vacancy. Since the Election Commission hasn’t conducted the election, the petitioner is likely to lose his membership.

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