No Bar on Contesting Two Seats in One Poll
Why in the News?
- Recently, the Supreme Court has rejected a petition to bar candidates from contesting from more than one constituency in the general or assembly elections, calling it a matter of “parliamentary sovereignty” and “political democracy”.
- The plea challenged the constitutionality of Section 33(7) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, which allows a candidate to contest from a maximum of two constituencies.
What is the Ruling?
- The court ruled that this matter falls within the legislative domain and is a matter of parliamentary sovereignty and political democracy.
- It is parliament’s will that determines whether political democracy is furthered by granting such a choice.
- Contesting from multiple seats can be due to multiple reasons and whether it furthers parliamentary democracy is something which is in the legislative domain.
What are the Provisions Related to Twin Candidature?
- Section 33(7) of the RPA has led to waste of resources, conflicts of interest, paradoxical provisions, voter confusion, perception of corruption, and a threat to democracy.
- The Election Commission has recommended amending Section 33(7) to allow one candidate to contest from only one seat and to impose a financial burden on candidates who win both seats.
What Issues Arise from Twin Candidature?
- Waste of Resources: Campaigning and contesting in multiple constituencies can be a waste of Resources and Money, both for the candidate and the government. After sacrificing one of the Constituencies, a by-election is immediately triggered, which again increases the burden on Public Exchequer. For example, in 2014, after PM Narendra Modi won both Vadodara and Varanasi, he vacated his seat in Vadodara, forcing a by-election there.
- Conflicts of Interest: Running in multiple constituencies can create conflicts of interest, as the candidate may not be able to devote equal time and attention to each of their constituencies.
- Paradoxical Provisions: Section 33(7) of the RPA leads to a situation where it would be negated by another section of the same Act – specifically, Section 70. While 33(7) allows candidates to contest from two seats, Section 70 bars candidates from representing two constituencies in the Lok Sabha/state. Assembly.
- Voter Confusion: Voters in different constituencies may be confused about which candidate is representing them, or which candidate they should vote for.
- Perception of Corruption: Running in multiple constituencies can also raise questions about the candidate’s motivation and create the perception of corruption, as they may be seeking multiple seats in order to increase their chances of winning office.
- Threat to Democracy: Twin candidature can be seen as a threat to democracy, as it can undermine the principle of fair and equal representation.
- The Election Commission recommended amending Section 33(7) so as to allow one candidate to contest from only one seat. It did so in 2004, 2010, 2016 and in 2018.
- A system should be devised wherein if a candidate contested from two constituencies and won both, then he or she would bear the financial burden of conducting the subsequent by-election in one of the constituencies.
- The amount would be Rs 5 lakh for a Vidhan Sabha election and Rs 10 lakh for a Lok Sabha election.
One person, one vote is the dictum that has been a founding principle of Indian democracy. Perhaps it is time to modify and expand that principle to “One person, one vote; one candidate, one constituency.
UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)
- Consider the following statements: (2017)
- The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
- The Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
- Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognised political parties.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 3 only
- Discuss the role of the Election Commission of India in the light of the evolution of the Model Code of Conduct. (2022)