No bar on contesting two seats in one poll: SC
Polity & Governance
10th Feb, 2023
The Supreme Court refused to set aside a provision in the election law which allows candidates to contest polls from two constituencies simultaneously.
About the case:
- A petition has argued in the Supreme Court to declare Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Actinvalid and ultra vires.
- In response to it, the SC has mentioned that it is a matter of political democracyand it is the authority of Parliament to take a call on the matter.
Section 33(7) of the Act allows a person to contest a general election or a group of by-elections or biennial elections from two constituencies.
Government stand on the issue:
- In 2018, the government objected to the petition in court.
- It had argued that the law cannot curtail the right of a candidateto contest elections and curtail the polity’s choice of candidates.
- The government had further told the Supreme Court that the one-candidate-one-constituency restrictionwould require a legislative amendment.
- When a person contests an election from two constituenciesand wins from both, then he/she vacates the seat in one of the two constituencies.
- The consequence is that a by-election would be required from one constituency involving avoidable expenditure on the conduct of that by-election.
To address the concerns associated with elections from two constituencies, a poll body has given the following suggestions:
- The poll body had even suggested that a candidate should deposit an amount of Rs 5 lakh for contestingin two constituencies in an Assembly election or Rs.10 lakh in a general election.
- The amount would be used to cover the expenses for a by-election in the eventuality that he or she was victorious in both constituencies and had to relinquish one.
Features of the Representation of People Act, 1951:
- Only a qualified voter is eligible to contest elections to the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
- For seats that are reserved for the Scheduled Caste and Tribe communities, only candidates belonging to those categories can contest the elections.
- A person found guilty of any of the following shall be disqualified for a period of 6 years to contest elections after release from jail:
- Promoting hatred and enmity between classes
- Influencing elections
- Rape or other grave crimes against women
- Spreading religious disharmony
- Practising untouchability
- Importing or exporting prohibited goods
- Selling or consuming illegal drugs as well as other chemicals
- Engaging in terrorism in any form
- Have been imprisoned for at least two years
- The candidate can also be disqualified if he/she has engaged in any corrupt practice or excluded from related government contracts.
- Disqualification can also result if the candidate fails to declare his/her assets. The candidate must declare his/her assets and liabilities within ninety days from his/her oath-taking day.
- The Act requires all political parties to be registered with the Election Commission. Any change in the name and/or address of the party should be intimated to the Commission.
- A party can take donations from any individual or company within India, but not government-owned ones. And, contributions from foreign entities are not allowed.
- Every political party must report a donation of over Rs.20, 000 received from any person or company.
- A party that gets a minimum of 6 per cent of the valid votes for assembly elections in more than four states or wins at least 2 per cent of seats in Lok Sabha from at least three states is recognized as a National Party.
- A party that gets a minimum of 6 per cent of the votes in the state assembly elections or wins at least 3 per cent of total seats in the state assembly will be a state political party.
- Candidates should deposit Rs.25000 as security for the Lok Sabha elections and Rs.12500 for all other elections. Candidates belonging to the SC/ST communities get a 50% reduction in the security deposit