From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Section 33 (7) of the RPA, 1951
Mains level : Not Much
The Supreme Court has refused to set aside a provision in the election law that allows candidates to contest polls from two constituencies simultaneously.
What is the issue?
- The petition had sought the court to declare Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Act invalid and ultra vires.
- Like one-person-one-vote, one-candidate-one-constituency is the dictum of democracy, argued the petition.
What did the SC say?
- This is a policy matter and an issue concerning political democracy.
- It is for the Parliament to take a call, CJI observed.
Provision for contesting polls from two constituency
- Under section 33 (7) of the RPA, 1951, a person is allowed to contest polls, whether a general election, more than one by-elections or biennial elections, from a maximum of two seats.
- Before this law, candidates could run in any number of constituencies.
- If candidates win both seats, they must vacate one within 10 days, triggering a by-election, as stated under section 70 of the Act.
- Under the Constitution, an individual cannot simultaneously be a member of either House of Parliament (or a state legislature), or both Parliament and a state legislature, or represent more than one seat in a House.
Issues with two polls provision
- Issues with twin victories: There have been cases where a person contests election from two constituencies, and wins from both. In such a situation he vacates the seat in one of the two constituencies.
- Expenses of bye-election: The consequence is that a by-election would be required from one constituency involving avoidable expenditure on the conduct of that bye-election.
ECI supports one-candidate-one-constituency
- The Election Commission had, in an affidavit in 2018, supported the petition.
- It had informed the Supreme Court that it had proposed an amendment to Section 33(7) in July 2004.
- Heavy election deposits: A candidate should deposit an amount of ₹5 lakh for contesting in two constituencies in an Assembly election or ₹10 lakh in a general election.
- Recurring election expenses: 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.
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