Postal ballot
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Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday reviewed the matter concerning the feasibility of conducting of biennial election for the 9 vacant seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Councils (MLC).

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora joined the meeting with election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra over a video call from the USA.

Nine seats of MLC by MLAs became vacant on April 24 in Maharashtra (Annexure A).

ECI on April 3 issued an order under Article 324 to defer the elections till further orders in view of COVID-19 circumstances.

The Election Commission has received a letter dated April 30, 2020, of Maharashtra chief secretary, in which the CS has pointed out the various measures taken to control pandemic and that in the State Government’s assessment, elections to the nine seats of MLC by MLAs could be held in a safe environment.

The state government has assured the Commission that it is fully committed to ensuring that the said elections are held in totally hygienic conditions with social distancing measures and other conditions imposed by the competent authorities.

Citing the union home ministry’s April 29 order concerning permitting the movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded due to lock-down orders,  the state government has reiterated that it will facilitate and ensure that the elections are conducted by following all directions in the matter.

Commission also received a DO letter dated April 30 of Maharashtra Governor, addressed to the CEC indicating the feasibility of conducting elections in the state.

In this connection, Governor has also mentioned that Udhav Balasaheb Thackeray was sworn in as Maharashtra Chief Minister on November 28, 2019, and pointed out that as per constitutional provisions he has to become a member of either the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council within a period of six months i.e. on or before May 27.

He has further stated that the ground level situation is contained and as of now appears to be improving with several relaxations being made by the government.

Keeping in view the entire situation the Election Commission has been requested to consider working out modalities to hold elections.

Commission also took note of representations from various political parties– the Maharashtra Vidhanmandal Congress Paksha, the Shiv Sena Vidhi Mandal Paksha and, the Rashtravadi Congress Party requesting Commission to conduct the said election, the schedule of which was deferred due to force majeure conditions.

While taking note of all the above, the Commission reviewed the past precedents in such unforeseen situations.

In cases of former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao in 1991  and HD Deve Gowda in 1996, the commission conducted by-elections to fulfil a similar constitutional requirement.

Commission noted that this has been the consistent practice in the past.

After taking all these into consideration, Commission has decided to conduct the said biennial election in the State of Maharashtra.

Further Commission has appointed Chief Electoral Officer, Maharashtra as Observer for this election.

EventsDates
1.      Issue of Notification4th  May 2020 (Monday)
2.      Last Date of making nominations11th  May 2020 (Monday)
3.      Scrutiny of nominations12th May 2020 (Tuesday)
4.      Last date for withdrawal of candidatures14th May 2020 (Thursday)
5.      Date of Poll21st May 2020 (Thursday)
6.      Hours of Poll09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m.
7.      Counting of Votes21st May 2020 (Thursday) at 5:00 p.m.

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