Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act.



Constitution allows Parliament to make provisions in all matters relating to elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures. In exercise of this power, the Parliament has enacted laws like Representation of the People Act 1950 (RPA Act 1950), Representation of the People Act 1951 (RPA Act 1951).


The Representation of The People Act, 1950:

An Act to provide for the allocation of seats in, and the delimitation of constituencies for the purpose of elections to, the House of the People and the Legislatures of States, the qualifications of voters at such elections, the preparation of electoral rolls, the manner of filling seats in the Council of States to be filled by representatives of Union territories, and matters connected therewith.


Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act, 1950






Key Provisions



·         Lays down procedures for delimitation of constituencies.

·         Provides for the allocation of seats in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils of States.

·         Lays procedure for the preparation of electoral rolls and the manner of filling seats.

·         Lays down the qualification of voters.






Delimiting Constituencies



·         The President of India has been conferred the power to amend orders delimiting constituencies, only after consulting the ECI.

·         In Lok Sabha, there is a reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

·         The ECI has the power to determine the constituencies to be reserved for scheduled tribes in the states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.



Allocation of seats



As far as possible, every state gets representation in the Lok Sabha in proportion to its population as per census figures.






Electoral Rolls






The 1950 Act permits the registration of persons in electoral rolls who are ordinarily resident n a constituency and persons holding:

·         Service qualification such as a member of armed forces, member of the armed police force of a state, serving outside the state, or central government employees posted outside India.

·         Certain offices in India declared by the President in consultation with ECI.

·         The wives of such persons are also deemed to be ordinarily residing in India. There is a proposal for making some provisions gender-neutral by replacing the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’.












Electoral Officers



Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)

  • Each state to have a CEO nominated or designated by the ECI in consultation with the state government to supervise the election work in the State/ UTs.
  • The ECI also nominates or designates an officer of the state as the District Election Officer (DEO)in consultation with the state government
    • The DEO works under the overall superintendence and control of the CEO.


Electoral Registration Officer (ERO)

·         The ERO is responsible for the preparation of the electoral roll for each constituency (parliamentary/assembly).

·         An appeal against the order of the ERO during the update of the electoral rolls now lies with District Magistrate.


Returning Officer (RO):

  • RO is responsible for the conduct of the election in a constituency and returns an elected candidate.
  • The ECI nominates or designates an officer of the government or local authority as the RO in consultation with the state government.





Power to make rules



Power to make rules under the act is conferred to the Central government, which can exercise this power in consultation with the ECI.

o    The Civil Courts have also been barred to question the legality of any action of the ERO regarding revision of electoral rolls.




Voting Rights




In 2010, voting rights were extended to citizens of India living abroad.


Salient Features of the Representation of People Act 1951

The Representation of the People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.


It was introduced in Parliament by law minister Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.







RPA act provides for



·         Conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State.

·         Details about the structure of administrative machinery for the conduct of elections.

·         Qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those houses.

·         Corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.






Qualification for membership of the Lok Sabha




According to the act, a person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the Lok Sabha unless:

·         He is a member of any Scheduled Caste of any state and is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency; in the case of a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes in any State.

·         He is a member of any Scheduled Tribe of any state and is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency in the case of a seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.

·         He is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency; in case of any other seat.



Qualification for membership of the Rajya Sabha




A person shall not be qualified to be chosen as a representative of any State or Union territory in the Rajya Sabha unless he is an elector for a Parliamentary constituency.










·         Found guilty of election offences/corrupt practices.

·         Conviction for any offence resulting in imprisonment for 2 or more years. Conviction for promoting enmity between different groups.

·         Failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within time.

·         Having interest in government contracts, works or services.

·         If dismissed from government service for corruption or dis-loyalty to the state.

·         If punished for practising and preaching social crimes like sati, untouchability, etc.














Election offence covered under RPA



·         Any form of gratification for electors for voting or refraining from voting, and to the candidates for withdrawing or not withdrawing nomination is considered as a corrupt practice.

·         It includes any direct or indirect interference with the free exercise of any electoral right by the candidate or his election agent.

·         Appeal to vote or refrain from voting on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language, etc.

·         The promotion of feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language.

·         The propagation of the practice or the commission of sati or its glorification.

·         The publication of any false statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of any candidate.

·         Booth capturing by a candidate or his agent or other person.

·         Obtaining any assistance from any person in the service of the Government for the furtherance of the prospects of that candidate’s election




Election expenses



According to the section 77 of RPA, 1951, every candidate contesting in election to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of a State, shall, either by himself or by his election agent, keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure in connection with the election incurred or authorized by him or by his election agent.







Provisions Related to Political Parties



Every association or body in order to become a political party must be registered with the ECI whose decision regarding registration will be final.

  • Registered political parties, in course of time, can get recognition as ‘State Party’ or National Party’.
  • Change in name and address of a registered political party must be communicated to the ECI.
  • The ECI cannot derecognise a party.






Section 126 of the RPA, 1951




·         48 hours before the polling ends or concludes, displaying of any election matter by television or similar apparatus in a constituency is prohibited.

·         Section 126 is not applicable to the print media, news portals and social media

·         Section 126A prohibits the conduct of exit poll and dissemination of its results during the period mentioned.









Voluntary Contributions



  • Voluntary contributions by any person or company within India ( other than a government company) can be accepted by the registered political party.
    • A company can donate any amount of money to any political party.
    • There is no obligation of the company to report such donations in its profit and loss account.
  • It is mandatory for the political parties to submit to the ECI a list of donations they received above Rs. 2,000.
    • Political parties cannot receive more than Rs 2000 as cash donations.
  • Now, political parties are eligible to accept contributions from foreign companies defined under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.





Declaration of Assets and Liabilities



·         Individuals contesting elections have to file an affidavit, declaring their criminal records, assets & liabilities and educational qualification.

·         After getting elected, MPs are required to file a declaration of assets and liabilities with the Speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

·         These declarations have to be made by MPs within 90 days of taking their seats in Parliament.


Disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences

Section 8 deals with Disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences. The various sub-clauses include

  • 8 ( 1 ):A person convicted of an offence punishable under certain acts of Indian Penal Code, Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 etc. shall be disqualified, where the convicted person is sentenced to — (i) only fine, for a period of six years from the date of such conviction; (ii) imprisonment, from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
  • 8 (2): A person convicted for the contravention of—(a) any law providing for the prevention of hoarding or profiteering; or (b) any law relating to the adulteration of food or drugs; or (c) any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
  • 8 (3): A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
  • A fourth subsection, i.e., 8 (4 ) was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 (Lily Thomas case). This subsection had provisions for convicted lawmakers to retain their seats if they filed an appeal within 3 months of their conviction.
  • In 2013, the Patna High Court also debarred persons in judicial or police custody from contesting elections.


Recent amendments to RP act

  • Insertion of section 126A which banned publishing exit polls till the time of elections were over.
  • Section 8(4) which allowed convicted MPs, MLAs to stand for elections by filing a complaint was repealed. It is a step towards decriminalising politics.
  • Insertion of Section 62(2), which allowed a person post detention to contest elections as he is no longer ceased to be an elector as his name is included in the electoral roll.
  • Recent amendment included Section 20A of RPA, which now allows NRI to vote from their current residence via postal ballot system.
  • SC has asked EC to introduce NOTA button. Now instead of boycotting elections, voters can practice their right to reject.



  • False Disclosures: Even after the provision of the declaration of assets and liabilities in the RPA act, candidates do not disclose all the assets and provide wrong and incomplete information regarding their assets, liabilities, and income and educational qualifications.
  • The Bureaucratization of Politics: In spite of the inclusion of several provisions aimed at making the ECI as an independent body,it is still dependent on the Union for financial matters that paves the way for political parties to manage to get the officers in their favour through money and muscle power.
  • Dual Responsibility of the ECI: The ECI does not have independent staff of its own so whenever elections take place, it has to depend upon staff of Central and State Governments hence the dual responsibility of the administrative staff, to the government for ordinary administration and to the ECI for electoral administration is not conducive to the impartial and efficient functioning of the Commission.
  • Misuse of Government Machinery: The RPAs lack clear provisions and guidelines on the matters related to the misuse of official machinery that gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections and leads to the misuse of public funds for furthering the prospects of candidates of a particular party.


Way Forward:

  • Restriction on Opinion Polls: By an amendment made to the RPA 1951, conducting and publishing results of exit polls have been prohibited.
    • There should be a similar prohibition or restriction on opinion polls also as several manipulated opinion polls could impact the voting pattern.
  • False Declaration as Offense: The RPA ,1951 should be amended to include all the items related to the election disclosure in the affidavit and making false declarations in connection with the election to be an offence.
  • Independent ECI: In order to curb the practice of bureaucratization of politics and to secure complete independence of the Election Commission, its expenditure should be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • De-listing of Valid Electorates: Parliament must pass a law dealing with the serious problem of delisting of valid electors from electoral rolls because illiterate electorate residing in far villages cannot watch over the publication of electorate lists.
  • State Funding of Elections: To minimise the role of money in elections, provisions should be made for state funding of elections.


Practice Question:

On what grounds a people’s representative can be disqualified under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951? explain and also present the remedies available to such persons against his disqualification. (250 words)

 Compare and contrast the provisions under Representation of People’s Act, 1951 with that of the provisions related to elections in the Constitution of India. (250 words)