Plea For Prohibiting Candidates From Contesting From More Than One Constituency: SC Seeks AG’s Appearance [Read Petition]

Plea For Prohibiting Candidates From Contesting From More Than One Constituency: SC Seeks AG’s Appearance [Read Petition]

A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra has sought the appearance of Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal in a PIL seeking directions to restrict candidates from contesting from two constituencies simultaneously.

The bench, also comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, sought the appearance of the AG after the Election Commission of India (ECI) told the bench that proposals have been sent twice to the government - one in 2004, and then in December 2016 for amendment in the election law.

The ECI counsel submitted that  huge expenditure is incurred in conducting by-elections, voters also suffer.

Proposals to amend Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Act (RPA) were sent to the government. It was accepted by Law Commission of India, but no reply from the Centre yet, the lawyer said.

The PIL has been filed by advocate and social-political activist Ashwini Upadhyay praying that Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which allows a person to contest a general election or a group of bye-elections or biennial elections from two constituencies, be declared ultra-vires to the Constitution and its basic structure.

Upadhyay said: “’One person, one vote’ and ‘one candidate, one constituency’ is the dictum of democracy. However, as per the law, as it stands today, a person can contest the election for the same office from two constituencies simultaneously.”

Relying on Section 70 of the RPA, which specifies that a person who wins on both seats can hold on to one seat only, the petitioner said, “Right to know is the fundamental right of every citizen under the Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Citizens cast their vote after knowing the candidate’s character, qualification and criminal records etc.”

“When a candidate contests from two seats, it is imperative that he has to vacate one of the two seats, if he wins both. This, apart from the consequent unavoidable financial burden on the public exchequer, government manpower and other resources for holding bye-election against the resultant vacancy is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency which the candidate is quitting from,” he said.

The PIL also relied on the recommendation given in year 2004 by the then Chief Election Commissioner asking the Prime Minister to bring about an amendment to do away with the system of one person contesting from more than one constituency for the same office simultaneously.

He said: “The ECI alternatively suggested that if existing provisions are retained then the candidate contesting from two seats should bear the cost of the bye-election to the seat that the contestant decides to vacate in the event of his/her winning both seats. The amount in such an event could be Rs. 5 lakh for state assembly and council election, and Rs. 10 lakh for election to the House of People.”

Read the Petition Here