[26th April 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: Questioning the polls ‘rain washes out play’ moments

PYQ Relevance:
Q) Discuss the role of the Election Commission of India in the light of the evolution of the Model Code of Conduct. (UPSC IAS/2022) 

Q) Discuss the procedures to decide the disputes arising out of the election of a Member of the Parliament or State Legislature under The Representation of the People Act, 1951. What are the grounds on which the election of any returned candidate may be declared void? What remedy is available to the aggrieved party against the decision? Refer to the case laws. (UPSC IAS/2022) 

Q) Consider the following statements: (UPSC IAS/2017)
1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
2. Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognised political parties.Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 3 only


Prelims: Polity; Elections; Rule 11 of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961

Mains: Polity; Elections; General financial rules;

Mentor comments: Getting elected unopposed is perfectly legal in the existing provisions of electoral laws and practice. It is also thrilling. You emerge as the unrivalled representative of the people without the people having chosen you because you are the only choice on the ballot. It is like achieving something without making the requisite effort.

Let’s learn. 

Why in the News?

The Surat and Arunachal Pradesh results are issues that call for debate where an election is made to seem ‘free and fair’ despite people not having cast a single vote.

The reason behind the Surat and Arunachal Pradesh results are issues that call for debate 

  • Uncontested seats: In Surat and Arunachal Pradesh elections, there have been instances where candidates were disqualified or withdrew voluntarily, resulting in uncontested seats. This raises questions about the democratic process.
  • Contesting candidates is equal to the number of seats: The Representation of the People Act, 1951 states that if the number of contesting candidates is equal to the number of seats, the returning officer shall declare those candidates elected without a poll.
  • No impact of NOTA: The NOTA (None of the Above) option was introduced to allow voters to express dissatisfaction, but it does not actually impact the election outcome.

The question raised in this situation:

  • The real question is what happens if no one contests the election or all voters boycott it, resulting in no one being elected to fill the vacancy.
  • In such a scenario, there is a “victor” in the sense that someone is declared elected, but there is no “vanquished” party, only those who were ruled out or withdrew voluntarily.
  • The key issue is whether the Election Commission is bound to call for the constituency to elect a person again, similar to how unresponsive bids are handled in government procurement.

Rule 11 of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 says: 

(1) The returning officer shall… cause a copy of the list of contesting candidates to be affixed in some conspicuous place in his office and where the number of contesting candidates is equal to, or less than, the number of seats to be filled, he shall, immediately after such affixation, declare under sub-section 

(2) or as the case may be, sub-section 

(3) of section 53 the result of the election in such one of the Forms 21 to 21B as may be appropriate

The General financial rules

  • Fair, Transparent, and Reasonable Procedure: The GFRs emphasize the importance of conducting public procurement in a fair, transparent, and reasonable manner. This includes provisions for situations like the ‘Single Tender Enquiry’ under Rule 166, which allows for exceptions under certain conditions.
  • Evaluation of Lack of Competition: Rule 173(xx) addresses the issue of lack of competition in public procurement. It states that lack of competition should not be determined solely based on the number of bidders. 
  • Comparison with Electoral Process: The author draws a comparison between the principles outlined in the GFRs for public procurement and the electoral process under the Representation of the People Act (RPA).  
  • Exclusion of the Elector: The passage highlights a perceived dichotomy in the electoral process where the elector may be excluded from choosing their representative if there is only one candidate. This raises concerns about the fairness and representativeness of the electoral system.


Efforts should be made to encourage greater participation in the electoral process. This could involve public awareness campaigns, incentives for candidates to contest elections, and measures to ensure that voters are informed and motivated to participate.

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