Indian Polity & Constitution
In News: The Supreme Court has refused to set aside a provision in the election law that allows candidates to contest polls from two constituencies simultaneously.
Why: SC feels that it is a policy matter and an issue concerning political democracy. Hence, it is for the Parliament to take a call.
Background: The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, represented by senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, 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.
- Section 33(7) of the Act allows a person to contest a general election or a group of by-elections or biennial elections from two constituencies.
- But the court chose to leave the issue to the wisdom of the Parliament.
In 2018, the government had objected to the petition in court.
- It had argued that law cannot curtail the right of a candidate to contest elections and curtail the polity’s choice of candidates.
- The government had further told the Supreme Court that one-candidate-one-constituency restriction would require a legislative amendment. It had supported Section 33 (7).
- Before the amendment, candidates could contest from any number of constituencies. The government had said the restriction to two constituencies was reasonable enough, and there was no need to change the law now.
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.
- 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.
- The consequence is that a by-election would be required from one constituency involving avoidable expenditure on the conduct of that bye-election.
- Law should be amended to provide that a person cannot contest from more than one constituency at a time.
- 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.
- 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.
News Source: The Hindu
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