GS Paper 2:
Syllabus: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
Recently, the Election Commission of India asked the Union Law Ministry to consider limiting the seats from which a candidate can contest to just one.
Who has the power in this regard?
Constitution allows the Parliament to make provisions in all matters relating to elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
In accordance, the Parliament has enacted the following laws:
- Representation of the People Act 1950.
- Representation of the People Act 1951.
- Delimitation Commission Act of 1952.
Section 33(7) of RPA 1951:
Section 33(7) of the Representation of People’s Act permits a candidate to contest any election (Parliamentary, State Assembly, Biennial Council, or bye-elections) from up to two constituencies.
- The provision was introduced in 1996 prior to which there was no bar on the number of constituencies from which a candidate could contest.
- Section 70 bars candidates from representing two constituencies in the Lok Sabha/state.
Why candidates should be barred from contesting from more than one seat?
- One person, one vote & one candidate, one constituency is the dictum of democracy. However, as per the law, as it stands today, a person can contest the election for the same office from two constituencies simultaneously.
- When a candidate contests from two seats, it is imperative that he has to vacate one of the two seats if he wins both. This, apart from the consequent unavoidable financial burden on the public exchequer, government manpower and other resources for holding bye-election is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency which the candidate is quitting from.
Alternative suggested by the Election commission:
The ECI has alternatively suggested that if existing provisions are retained then the candidate contesting from two seats should bear the cost of the bye-election to the seat that the contestant decides to vacate in the event of his/her winning both seats. The amount in such an event could be Rs 5 lakh for assembly election and Rs 10 lakh for parliament election.
The Supreme Court had in December 2017 issued notices seeking replies from the Election Commission and the Centre on the issue. At the time, the Supreme Court had said the practice of one candidate contesting multiple seats was a drain on the exchequer since it necessitated bypolls. A petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Section 33(7).
- Representation of People’s Act.
- Section 33(7) of RPA.
- Laws related to Contesting in more than one constituency.
Discuss the significance of Section 33(7) of RPA.
Sources: the hindu.