Representation of People Act Features
Representation of Peoples Act is an act enacted by the Indian provincial parliament before first general elections.
Representation of Peoples Act 1950 provides:
a) the allocation of seats in, and the delimitation of constituencies for the purpose of election to, the House of the People and the Legislatures of States;
b) the qualifications of voters at such elections;
c) the methodology of preparation of electoral rolls;
d) the manner of filling seats in the Council of States and;
e) matters connected therewith.
Representation of Peoples Act 1951 provides:
a) Methodology for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State;
b) the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses;
c) the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and;
d) the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with elections.
For every constituency, there is a voters list Article 326 of the Constitution, and Sec. 19 of R. P. Act, 1950 stipulate that the minimum age for registration of a voter is 18 years. Earlier, the age for registration of a voter was 21 years. Through the 61st amendment Act, 1988 of the Constitution read with Act 21 of 1989 amending the R. P. Act, 1950, the minimum age of registration of a voter has been brought down to 18 years. This has been made effective from 28th March, 1989.
Further no person shall be entitled to be registered in the electoral roll for more than one constituency and no person shall be entitled to be registered in the electoral roll for any constituency more than once.
The other criteria is that he should be the ordinarily resident in a constituency, A person shall not be deemed to be ordinarily resident in a constituency on the ground only that he owns, or is in possession of, a dwelling house therein. Sub criteria's are:
(1A) A person absenting himself temporarily from his place of ordinary residence shall not by reason thereof cease to be ordinarily resident therein.
(1B) A member of Parliament or of the Legislature of a State shall not during the term of his office cease to be ordinarily resident in the constituency in the electoral roll of which he is registered as an elector at the time of his election as such member, by reason of his absence from that constituency in connection with his duties as such member.
(2) A person who is a patient in any establishment maintained wholly or mainly for the reception and treatment of persons suffering from mental illness or mental defectiveness, or who is detained in prison or other legal custody at any place, shall not by reason thereof be deemed to be ordinarily resident therein.
(3) Any person having a service qualification shall be deemed to be ordinarily resident on any date in the constituency in which, but for his having such service qualification, he would have been ordinarily resident on that date.
No civil court shall have jurisdiction to entertain or adjudicate upon any question whether any person is or is not entitled to be registered in an electoral roll for a constituency; or to question the legality of any action taken by or under the authority of an electoral registration officer, or of any decision given by any authority appointed under this Act for the revision of any such roll.
CRITERIA FOR THE DISQUALIFICATIONS FOR REGISTRATION IN AN ELECTORAL ROLL ARE:
A person shall be disqualified for registration in an electoral roll if he-
(a) Is not a citizen of India; or
(b) Is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or
(c) Is for the time being disqualified from voting under the provisions of this relating to corrupt practices and other offences in connection with election.
– The name of any person who becomes so disqualified after registration shall forthwith be struck off the electoral roll in which it is included:
– No person shall be entitled to be registered in the electoral roll for more than one constituency.
– No person shall be entitled to be registered to be registered in the electoral roll for more than once.
ADMINISTRATIVE MACHINERY FOR THE DESIGN OF ELECTORAL ROLLS:
• Chief Electoral Officer:
For each State a chief electoral officer is appointed who shall be such officer of Government as the Election Commission may, in consultation with that Government, designate or nominate in this behalf. The Chief Electoral Officer of a State/ Union Territory is authorised to supervise the election work in the State/Union Territory subject to the overall superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission. The chief electoral officer of each State shall also supervise the conduct of all elections in the State.
• District Electoral Officer:
For each district in a State the Election Commission shall, in consultation with the Government of the State, designate or nominate a district election officer who shall be an officer of Government: The Election Commission may designate or nominate more than one such officer for a district if the Election Commission is satisfied that the functions of the office cannot be performed satisfactorily by one officer. , the District Election Officer shall coordinate and supervise all work in the district or in the area within his jurisdiction in connection with the conduct of all elections to Parliament and the Legislature of the State.
• Electoral registration officers:
The electoral roll for each parliamentary constituency in the State of Jammu and Kashmir or in a Union territory not having a Legislative Assembly, each assembly constituency and each Council constituency shall be prepared and revised by an electoral registration officer who shall be such officer of Government or of a local authority as the Election Commission may, in consultation with the Government of the State in which the constituency is situated, designate or nominate in this behalf. An electoral registration officer may, subject to any prescribed restrictions, employ such persons as he thinks fit for the preparation and revision of the electoral roll for the constituency.
• Assistant electoral registration officers:
The Election Commission may appoint one or more persons as assistant electoral registration officers to assist any electoral registration officer in the performance of his functions. Every assistant electoral registration officer shall, subject to the control of the electoral registration officer, be competent to perform all or any of the functions of the electoral registration officer.
ADMINISTRATIVE MACHINERY FOR THE CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS:
There is the chief Electoral officer at the state level, district election officer at the district level for the supervision and conduct of elections.
Chief electoral officers:
Subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission, the chief electoral officer of each State shall supervise the conduct of all elections in the State under this Act.
District election officer:
Subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the chief electoral officer, the district election officer shall coordinate and supervise all work in the district or in the area within his jurisdiction in connection with the conduct of all elections to Parliament and the Legislature of the State.
The district election officer shall also perform such other functions as may be entrusted to him by the Election Commission and the chief electoral officer.
The Election Commission may nominate an Observer who shall be an officer of Government to watch the conduct of election or elections in a constituency or a group of constituencies and to perform such other functions as may be entrusted to him by the Election Commission.
The Observer nominated shall have the power to direct the returning officer for the constituency or for any of the constituencies for which he has been nominated, to stop the counting of votes at any time before the declaration of the result or not to declare the result if in the opinion of the Observer booth capturing has taken place at a large number of polling stations or at places fixed for the poll or counting of votes or any ballot papers used at a polling station or at a place fixed for the poll are unlawfully taken out of the custody of the returning officer or are accidentally or intentionally destroyed or lost or are damaged or tampered with to such an extent that the result of the poll at that polling station or place cannot be ascertained.
Where an Observer has directed the returning officer under this section to stop counting of votes or not to declare the result, the Observer shall forthwith report the matter to the Election Commission and thereupon the Election Commission shall, after taking all material circumstances into account, issue appropriate directions under section 58A or section 64A or section 66
Returning Officer for each constituency:
For each constituency/ seat (council of states) there shall be a Returning Officer appointed by the EC. The person shall be an officer of government or local body.
Election Commission can designate or nominate the same person to be the Returning Officer for have than one constituency.
Assistant Returning Officers:
The Election Commission may appoint one or more persons to assist any Returning Officer in the performance of his functions, Provided that every such person shall be an officer of Government.
Every Assistant Returning Officer shall, subject to the control of the Returning Officer, be competent to perform all or any of the functions of the Returning Officer.
District Election Officer:
The district election officer shall, with the previous approval of the Election Commission, provide a sufficient number of polling stations for every constituency the whole or greater part of which lies within his jurisdiction, and shall publish, in such manner as the Election Commission may direct, a list showing the polling stations so provided and the polling areas or groups of voters for which they have respectively been provided.
The district election officer shall appoint a presiding officer for each polling station and such polling officer or officers as he thinks necessary, but he shall not appoint any person who has been employed by or on behalf of, or has been otherwise working for, a candidate in or about the election.
A polling officer shall, if so directed by the presiding officer, perform all or any of the functions of a presiding officer under this Act or any rules or orders made there under.
In case of elections to council of states or legislative council, the returning officer will also be the presiding officer.
CRIMINALITY IN THE INDIAN POLITICAL SYSTEM - THE SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT
The Supreme Court judgment on the 10th July, 2013 on Writ Petitions filed by Ms Lily Thomas and Mr Shukla of Lok Prahari has stated that if a sitting MP/MLA is convicted (not only charged) then he/ she would be disqualified immediately and the seat would be declared as vacant.
Sub-sections (1) of Section 8 of RPA states that a person will be disqualified for a period of 6 years from contesting or for being an MP/ MLA if he/ she is convicted of an offence mentioned in the subsection which includes charges of rape. Sub-section (2) of Section 8 of the RPA states the person will be disqualified for a period of 6 years since release for charges with imprisonment upto 6 months. Sub-section (3) of Section 8 of the RPA states that if a person is convicted and sentenced for more than 2 years then he/ she would be disqualified from the date of conviction for six years from release.
The present Supreme Court judgment has ruled that henceforth if MPs and MLAs get convicted in a court of law then such a conviction will lead to instant disqualification of the legislators. But earlier convictions don't come under the purview of this judgment. Also, if convicted MPs/MLAs appeal in higher courts and get convicted again, they would be disqualified under this Supreme Court ruling.
The present Supreme Court judgment only talks about the convictions in a court of law as the criteria for instant disqualification of the sitting MPs or MLAs. Earlier there was no deterrence for Political Parties for not giving tickets to these candidates with pending criminal cases because even if any such candidate got convicted, they would appeal against the conviction and continue to be an MP or MLA. Now since the convicted representative will immediately lose his/her seat, parties would be hesitant to give tickets to such candidates.
This is a very significant judgment, as it would act as a deterrent to political parties from giving tickets to tainted candidates. The problem concerning pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs being dragged in the court for many years (actually decades) is also paramount. There is a PIL on this issue in the Supreme Court for which the Court has asked for response from the center and the states. We hope that the court will take it soon as this will be a very important step in the direction of curbing criminalization of politics. In addition, electoral reforms such as introducing a Bill for reform political parties apart from judicial and police reforms would help in removing criminals from politics.