Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday granted three weeks to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to explain why the parliamentary by-election for Anantnag has not been held. The Election Commission of India (ECI) notified the by-election in March 2017, but violence during the by-election for Srinagar made the ECI defer it indefinitely. The parliamentary seat for Anantnag has been lying vacant for almost three years.
A single bench of Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir remarked that already a lot of time has elapsed and the authorities must take a call on holding the by-election for the vacant seat.
“Direction is passed to Ministry of Home Affairs to explain why election has not been conducted since the ECI notified the vacant seat,” the court said.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Ghulam Mohammad Wani of Pulwama, who was one of the contestants for the by-poll before it was rescinded by the ECI.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had won the Anantnag parliamentary seat in 2014, resigned in 2015 and subsequently the seat was notified by ECI for by-elections in March 2017.
According to the petition, on April 18, 2017, a delegation of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee and National Conference expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of killing of eight persons on polling day in Budgam area of Srinagar constituency. The delegation expressed apprehensions that holding election in Anantnag may further worsen the situation.
In this backdrop, the ECI asked for ground report from the state administration. The J&K Chief Secretary informed the ECI that the state government was of the opinion that the time was not conducive for holding elections in Anantnag. Since then, nothing has been communicated on the holding of the elections, which led the petitioner to seek an answer through the High Court.
The petition reads that a sizeable population is being denied their basic right of participation in democracy and the petitioner is being denied his right to contest in the elections.