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No bar on contesting two seats in one poll

  • Published
    3rd Feb, 2023
Context

The Supreme Court has 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 Act invalid and ultra vires.
  • In response to it, the SC has mentioned that it is a matter of political democracy and 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 candidate to contest elections and curtail the polity’s choice of candidates.
  • The government had further told the Supreme Court that the one-candidate-one-constituency restriction would require a legislative amendment.

Concern associated:

  • When a person contests an election from two constituencies and 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.

Suggestions:

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 contesting in 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
    • Bribery
    • 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
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