Plea Seeking Ban On Candidates Contesting From More Than One Seat: SC Seeks Centre's Response

Plea Seeking Ban On Candidates Contesting From More Than One Seat: SC Seeks Centre

A 3 judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra today sought the response of the Centre on a PIL which prayed for a direction to Election commission not to allow a candidate to contest from two seats.

"We had sought the assistance of Ld Attorney General K K Venugopal in the matter.He has agreed to assist, but seeks time to file a counter to the petition. Time is granted.Let the matter be taken up in the first week of July", the bench also comprising of justices AM Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

On December 17 the Election Commission told the apex court that a candidate should not be allowed to contest from two constituencies.

The court had then sought Attorney General K.K. Venugopal's assistance in the matter.

Ashwini Upadhyaya, a Supreme Court lawyer and BJP leader has challenged Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951 that allows a person to contest elections to Parliament and state assemblies from two constituencies and sought an end to the practice.

Upadhyaya has also sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission for taking steps to discourage independent candidates from joining the election fray which he said held the potential of fragmenting votes and creating instability.

Section 33 (7) says that "... a person shall not be nominated as a candidate for election (a) in the case of a general election to the House of the People ... from more than two Parliamentary constituencies..." The same holds good for elections to assemblies.

Upadhyay said that "One person one vote" and "one candidate one constituency" is the dictum of democracy. However, as the law stands today, a person can contest elections for the same office from two constituencies simultaneously, he said.

The petitioner said that while a candidate can contest an election simultaneously from two seats, under Section 70 of the Representation of the People Act he can retain only one and has to vacate the other one.

Referring to the Election Commission recommendation in 2004, the petitioner said that way back on July 5, 2004, the then Chief Election Commissioner had urged the Prime Minister to go for an amendment to Section 33(7) to provide that a person cannot contest from more than one constituency for the same office simultaneously.

Alternately, the CEC had said, if the existing provision to permit a candidate to contest from two seats had to be retained then the cost of re-election to the seat he wins but vacates should be borne by the said candidate.

He referred to the Law Commission report that agreed with the Election Commission that a person cannot contest from more than one seat at a time.

"The Goswami Committee in 1990 and the Law Commission in its 170th report in 1999 recommended the same," said the petition.