Polity and Governance

Two Constituency Norm Challenged in Supreme Court

Two Constituency Norm challenged in Supreme Court
•Supreme Court is examining the constitutional validity of Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951 which restricts candidates to contesting from two constituencies.
•Before the amendment, candidates could contest from any number of constituencies.
•The government objected to a plea to stop candidates from contesting from two different constituencies, saying such a limitation infringes on a person’s right to contest the polls and curtails the polity’s choice of candidates.
Government vs Election Commission
•The Centre has told the Supreme Court that there should not be any restraint on candidates against contesting from more than one seat provision as it provides a wider choice to the polity as well as candidates.
•The government stand is contrary to the Election Commission, which is in favour of restricting a candidate to contest from one seat.
Issue involved
•A PIL has been filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay sought doing away with the law on the ground that it leads to wastage of public money.
•He also pointed out that it is not fair on the voters as well if the person they voted for decides to vacate a seat.
•Opposing the PIL, the Centre had stated that the existing legal provisions provided for a balance as far as rights of the candidates and choices in polity are concerned.
Recovery of the cost of election
•The Election Commission panel, in its affidavit, had stated that in case the court thinks that such a restraint is not required, an express provision should be made in the Representation of People Act to ensure that the candidate is made to pay for the re-poll for the constituency s/he opts to quit.
•In 2004, the EC had proposed that the candidate should be asked to shell out Rs 5 lakh in case of an Assembly seat and ₹10 lakh for the Lok Sabha if s/he quits the constituency.
Representation of the People Act of 1951
•In original act, Section 33 permitted a person to contest from more than one Constituency, but Section 70 prevented him to hold more than one seat in State or Central Legislature
•1996 amendment allowed maximum two seats
•ECI has recently favoured amendment to allow just one seat.
Vacation of Seat upon Double Membership
•If a person is elected in both Houses of Parliament, he must intimate within 10 days in which house he wishes to serve. In default, his RS seats shall become vacant.
•If sitting member of House in also elected to other House, his seat in first house shall become vacant.
•If a person is elected to two seats in a House, he should exercise the option for one, else both seats shall become vacant.
•If a person is elected both in Parliament and in Legislature, his seat in Parliament becomes vacant if he does not resign his seat in State Legislature within 14 days.

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