- The Supreme Court has agreed to adjudicate on whether politicians could be barred from contesting from more than one seat in an election and has sought assistance from the Attorney General (AG) to decide the issue.
- A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging 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.
Section 33(7) of RPA:
- Section 33(7) of the Representation of People’s Act permits a candidate to contest any election (Parliamentary, State Assembly, Biennial Council, or bye-elections) from up to two constituencies.
- The provision was introduced in 1996 prior to which there was no bar on the number of constituencies from which a candidate could contest.
Why candidates should be barred from contesting from more than one seat?
- One person, one vote & 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.
- 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 is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency which the candidate is quitting from.
Alternative suggested by the Election commission:
- The ECI has 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 assembly election and Rs 10 lakh for parliament election.