Manipur Social Welfare Minister Okram Henry elected as member of legislative assembly from 15-Wangkhei AC to Indian National Congress (INC) and later jump to BJP has approached the Supreme Court of India pleading for a directive to ECI to conduct a bye-election for 15-Wangkhei AC to avoid losing his ministership, on Wednesday. However, the apex court has ordered to put up the matter after the Holi Holidays, 2021.
Henry in his prayer stated that he was elected as MLA from 15-Wangkhei AC by considerable margin of votes. The term of 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly was originally from March 2017 to March 2022. At the time of getting elected, he belonged to INC, however due to some ideological differences, he resigned as MLA of the INC and joined BJP in August, 2020. The resignation was accepted by Manipur Legislative Assembly on August 11, 2020. But, in view of casual vacancy arisen, the ECI is under obligation to conduct bye-election within a period of six months.
Claiming that he reliably understand that the election commission of India is not conducting the bye-election in view of the fact that an election petition is pending before the Manipur High Court for four years. The statutory provision under section 86(6) and 86(7) of representative of people act, 1951 provides that trial of election petition shall be continued on day to day basis and as far as possible conclude the trial within a period of six months.
Henry pointed out that article 16(4) of the Constitution of India provides that a non-MLA cannot continue to be in the council of ministers until and unless he is elected as a member of Legislative assembly within six months from date of induction as minister and he has to be re-elected on or before March 24, 2021 in order to continue as a minister.
But unfortunately, the COVID-19 related restriction has seriously caused impediment and hampered the trial and also conclusion of the election petition pending in the High Court. Citing this, Henry said he is likely to lose his ministership for no fault of his in view of COVID-19 restrictions in hearing of the pending election petition. It has resulted to gross-infringement of fundamental rights under article 19(1)(g);14 and 21 of the constitution of India, he said in his petition.