Chapter-I and Chapter-II of Part II of RPA, 1951 provides for qualifications for Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of State Legislature (MLAs), which can be discussed under following heads:
Qualifications for Membership of Parliament
Qualification for membership of the Council of States (section 3 of RPA, 1951)
A person has to be an elector for a parliamentary constituency in India to be qualified to be chosen as a representative of any State or UT in the Council of States.
Thus, it is not necessary for a person to be an elector in that particular state or UT where he is contesting to be elected as a representative rather he can be an elector anywhere in India.
Section 3 of RPA in its original form required the condition of elector ‘in that state or territory’, but this requirement was dispensed by Representation of People (Amendment) Act, 2003 and it was substituted by elector ‘in India’.
In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of this change in ‘Kuldip Nayar case’.
Qualifications for membership of the House of the People (section 4 of RPA, 1951)
- In order to contest a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribe (other than those in the autonomous districts of Assam) in any State or Union Territory, he must be a member of any of the Scheduled Castes/Tribe, whether of that State or Union Territory or of any other State or Union Territory (excluding the tribal areas of Assam), and must be elector for any Parliamentary Constituency. However, a member of Schedule Caste or Schedule Tribe can also contest a seat not reserved for them.
- In order to contest a seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam, he must be a member of any of those Scheduled Tribes and must be an elector for the Parliamentary constituency in which such seat is reserved or for any other Parliamentary constituency comprising any such autonomous district; The protective mechanism as in case of Assam mentioned above applies to Lakshadweep and Sikkim.
- In order to contest for any other seat, he must be an elector for any Parliamentary constituency.
Qualifications for membership of a State Legislature (Section 5 of RPA, 1951)
- In order to contest a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes or for the Scheduled Tribes of that State or Union Territory, he must be a member of any of those castes or of those tribes, as the case may be, and must be an elector for any Assembly constituency in that State or Union Territory;
- In order to contest a seat reserved for an autonomous district of Assam, he must be a member of a Scheduled Tribe of any autonomous district and must be an elector for the Assembly constituency in which such seat or any other seat is reserved for that district; and
- In order to contest any other seat, he must be an elector for any Assembly constituency in that State or Union Territory.
- In order to be qualified to be chosen to fill any seat allocated to the Tuensang district in the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland for the period referred to in clause (2) of article 371A, he must be a member of the regional council referred to in that article.
- Section 5A mentions some special provisions regarding Qualifications for membership of Legislative Assembly of Sikkim.
Qualifications for membership of a Legislative Council—
- In order to be qualified to contest a seat of Legislative Council of a State or Union Territory to be filled by election, he must be an elector for any Assembly constituency in that State.
- In order to be qualified to be chosen for a seat in the Legislative Council of a State or Union Territory to be filled by nomination by the Governor he must be an ordinarily resident in the State or Union Territory.
Provisions in RPA 1951 related to disqualifications for voting
Section 11A provides for disqualification arising out of a conviction and corrupt practices. It mentions that if any person is convicted of an offence punishable under Section 171E (offence of bribery) or Section 171F (offence of undue influence or personation at an election) of the Indian Penal Code; or under Section 125 (Promoting enmity between classes in connection with election) or section 135 (removal of ballot paper from polling station) or Section 136(2)(a) (found guilty of some electoral offences, while being an officer in connection with the election) of RPA1951, he will be disqualified for voting at any election for a period of six years from the date of conviction or from the date on which the order takes effect.
Further, it provides that a person disqualified by a decision of the President under 8A (through election petition for corrupt practice) for any period will be disqualified for the same period for voting at any election. However, Section 11B provides that election commission may, for reason to be recorded, remove any disqualification except under section 8A.
Process of notification of general elections
Election to the House of People
For general election to the House of the people, the President, by one or more notifications published in the Gazette of India on such date or dates, as may be recommended by the Election Commission, calls upon all Parliamentary constituencies to elect members.
No such notification can be issued at any time earlier than six months prior to the date on which the duration of that House would expire, except in the case of dissolution of the existing House of People.
Election to the Council of States
In case of biennial election to the Council of State for the purpose of filling the seats of members of the Council of States retiring on the expiration of their term of office the President, by one or more notifications published in the Gazette of India on such date or dates as may be recommended by the Election Commission, calls upon the elected members of the Legislative Assembly or, as the case may be, the members of the electoral college, of each State concerned to elect members.
No such notification can be issued more than three months prior to the date on which the term of office of the retiring members is due to expire.
Similarly for the elections to state legislature, Governor plays the role mentioned for the President in case of House of People under exactly same conditions.