There is no restriction on running for two seats in the same election: The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has refused to overturn a provision in the election law that allows candidates to run for office in two constituencies at the same time.

What exactly is the problem?

  • The petition asked the court to declare Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act invalid and unconstitutional.
  • The petition argued that, like one-person-one-vote, one-candidate-one-constituency is a dictum of democracy.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • This is a policy issue as well as a matter of political democracy.
  • CJI noted that it is up to Parliament to make a decision.

Provision for contesting polls from two constituency

  • Section 33 (7) of the RPA, 1951 allows a person to run for a maximum of two seats in a general election, multiple by-elections, or biennial elections.
  • Prior to the passage of this legislation, candidates could run in any number of constituencies.
  • Section 70 of the Act states that if candidates win both seats, they must vacate one within 10 days, triggering a by-election.
  • A person cannot be a member of both Houses of Parliament (or a state legislature) at the same time, or represent more than one seat in a House, according to the Constitution.

Problems with the provision for two polls

  • Problems with twin victories: There have been cases where a person runs in two elections and wins in both. In such a case, he resigns from one of the two constituencies.
  • Bye-election expenses: As a result, a bye-election from one constituency would be required, resulting in avoidable expenditure on the conduct of that bye-election.

ECI believes in one-candidate-one-constituency

  • In 2018, the Election Commission supported the petition in an affidavit.
  • In July 2004, it informed the Supreme Court that it had proposed an amendment to Section 33(7).

Way forward

  • Heavy election deposits: In an Assembly election, a candidate must deposit 5 lakh, and in a general election, a candidate must deposit 10 lakh.
  • Recurring election expenses: This amount would be used to cover by-election expenses if he or she was victorious in both constituencies and had to relinquish one.
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