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SC extends Gujarat deadline

New Delhi, Sept. 26: The Supreme Court has extended the September 26 deadline for hearing arguments on the presidential reference on the Gujarat polls to October 1.

The five-judge Constitution bench presided by Chief Justice of India B.N. Kirpal took the decision as arguments remained inconclusive yesterday with the Centre assailing the Election Commission order postponing polls in Gujarat.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor-General Harish Salve contended that the Election Commission “must keep in mind the constitutional obligation of the President and the Governor to summon a House within six months of its last sitting while scheduling elections in a state or even to Parliament”.

Salve said the poll panel was duty-bound to honour Article 174 that stipulates six months should not intervene two successive Assembly sessions while exercising its powers under Article 324 of “superintendence, conduct and control” of elections.

If the “no six month gap” rule was violated, it would lead to two important constitutional functionaries, the President and the Governor of a state, failing in their constitutional function, he added. “So, the power of the Election Commission over conduct of polls did not override the mandate under Article 174 even though free and fair election is important and a basic feature of the Constitution,” the solicitor-general argued. The arguments will conclude on October 1.

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