Chandigarh 6 May, 2020. Sh. Satya Pal Jain, Ex-MP, Additional Solicitor General of India and a Senior BJP Leader has said that in the coming times, Election Law may have to be drastically amended in view of the ‘social distancing” which has become a social necessity today. He said that in the new situation which has arisen because of Corona Virus, it may not be possible to permit voting in Polling Booths where people assemble in large numbers and the government may have to examine introducing Online Voting or Postal Voting to avoid large scale gatherings in polling booths.
Mr. Jain was addressing a “Webinar” organized by Beyond Law CLC and UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh on the issue of “Election Laws in India”. About 350 advocates, law students and teachers participated in this webinar, which was also streamed live on social media. The webinar was conducted by Mr. Vikas Chatrath, Advocate.
Mr. Jain said that during the last 2 months, the Election Commission itself had to adjourn voting in the Rajya Sabha elections in various states to prevent violation ‘Social Distancing’, even where only limited number of MLAs were to vote and, therefore, how can it conduct elections in various states where lakhs and lakhs of people have to vote, divided into hundreds of Polling Booths which are managed by thousands of employees. He said that the time has come when other alternatives of voting like ‘Online Voting’ or ‘Postal Ballot’, etc. etc. have to be examined and a consensus has to be reached in the country.
Replying to a question by a young law student, Mr. Jain said that unfortunately different Speakers of different Vidhan Sabhas have kept the issues of disqualification of MLAs under the “Anti Defection Law” for a long time with a view to help and save the governments of their own political parties. He said that a time limit of 3-4 months should be prescribed for the Speakers to decide the “Anti Defection Petitions”, one way or the other.
To another query, by another student, Mr. Jain clarified that the Maharashtra Chief Minister Mr. Udhav Thackeray will have to become an MLA or MLC before May 27, 2020, i.e. within 6 months of his becoming a Chief Minister, otherwise as per the Constitution of India, he will cease to be the Chief Minister on that date. Thereafter, he cannot be appointed even a Minister or Chief Minister unless he is elected to either of the 2 houses of the Maharashtra Legislative.
The webinar continued for about 90 minutes in which about 350 persons participated and Mr. Jain replied to various questions put by the participants.