Constitutional crisis in Uttarakhand

By Aman|Updated : July 13th, 2021

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat recently submitted his resignation to Governor because he was not elected to the state legislature within the stipulated 6 month constitutional deadline.

Read this article to know all about it.

Constitutional crisis in Uttarakhand

Background

  • Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat recently submitted his resignation to Governor because he was not elected to the state legislature within the stipulated 6 month constitutional deadline.

Constitutional position

  • Article 164(4) of the Constitution permits a person who is not a member of legislature to get a post in the council of ministers, including the office of the chief minister, only for 6 months. If she doesn't get elected within this period, the Constitution says he "ceases to be a minister".
  • Section 151-A of the RPA 1951 states that a "a bye-election for filling any vacancy shall be held within a period of six months". But, there are two exceptions in this section.
    • 1: A by-poll need not be held, if the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is less than 1 year;
    • 2: If the ECI in consultation with the Central Government certifies that it is difficult to hold the by-election within the said period.

Can ECI hold by-polls (elections) in this case?

The Uttarakhand state Assembly term ends in March 2022, less than a year away. So the exception under Section 151A is applicable in this situation, leaving it up to the EC to take a call.

Opinion of the experts

  • As per constitutional experts, it is completely at the discretion of the ECI as the remainder of the member's term is less 1 year, the elections "need not be held" as per section 151A of RPA..

Courts' Opinion

  • Courts have in the past set aside such decisions by the ECI, because it gives very short term to incoming candidates.
  • In a 2019 case, the Bombay High Court had accepted the position that , it is not compulsory for the bypolls to be held for filling a vacancy within months if the exception under Section 151A applies.

Has held bye-election in appropriate cases in the past, even when the vacancy was available for less than a year?

Yes

Has the EC ever certified that an election cannot be held?

In the past, this has been done, including in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, in situations concerning the CM election, the EC has traditionally preferred to hold a bypoll.

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