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HC rejects Dec date for by-polls, imposes fine on govt officials

SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya on Thursday rejected the State’s proposal to hold by-elections to the District Council on December 13 and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on erring government officials for their failure to hold election to seven vacant posts in KHADC and JHADC.
The court had imposed Rs 5,000 fine on five State government and KHADC officials on August 19 for failing to provide adequate instructions to their counsels pertaining to the pending PIL on delay in holding by-polls to the Council’s six vacant seats.
The division bench of the High Court, headed by Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s approach and directed it to file a fresh affidavit after taking appropriate decision.
“The amount of Rs 25,000 shall be deposited on or before September 6 in the account of the Meghalaya Legal Services Authority who shall in turn be required to utilize this amount specifically for the purpose of upkeep of Juvenile Home in Meghalaya,” the order said.
The next hearing will be on September 8.
The HC bench was also unhappy about the absence of the Advocate General on Thursday. In the previous hearings, the Advocate General appearing on behalf of the government had said the by-elections were not held earlier because of pendency of the PIL on dual posts in the Court.
“It is also left to anybody’s guess as to amongst whom the matter was discussed and as to what the PIL challenging holding of dual posts at all had to do with holding of fresh election for the constituencies in question, particularly when no order restricting such election was passed in the PIL by the Court,” the Court said.
The government had proposed November 28 as the last date for filing nominations for the District Council by-polls. The last date for withdrawal of nomination papers was proposed on December 1.
The date of finalization and publication of valid nomination and allocation of symbol was fixed for   December 3. December 13 and December 16 were proposed for the by-poll and counting, respectively. However, this schedule has now been rejected by the High Court.

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