New Delhi: The Election Commission has deferred the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for March 26 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, official sources said on Tuesday.
In a press statement the ECI said, "The poll process in the above said elections would necessarily include the gathering of polling officials, agents of political parties, support officials and members of respective Legislative Assemblies on the poll day, which may not be suitable in view of the prevailing unforeseen situation and related advisories in the country."
Top officials in the ECI told CNN-News18 that a review of the situation will be done on March 31 before new dates are communicated for the election.
The EC has relied on the special powers granted under the Representation of People's Act to take the unprecedented decision to postpone Rajya Sabha polls. "Section 153 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 specifies that the Election Commission for reasons which it considers sufficient, may extend the time for the completion of any election by making necessary amendments in the notification issued by it under section 30 or sub-section (1) of section 39; and accordingly, the Election Commission has deferred the poll and extended the period of said election under the provisions of section 153 of the said Act,” ECI said.
Election to fill up 55 seats in the Upper House of Parliament was to be held on March 26, but 37 candidates have already been elected without a contest.
The decision on holding the election for the remaining 18 seats will be taken based on the prevailing situation, the sources said.
Nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday.
As cases of the viral infection surged, authorities have put almost the entire country under lockdown, banning gathering of people and suspending road, rail and air traffic till March 31.