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Efforts to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA)

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Efforts to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA)

Recently, the Chief Election Commissioner has again initiated fresh efforts to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA) to bar candidates from contesting from more than one constituency.

  • Thus, the Election Commission is of the opinion that candidates should contest from only one constituency.
  • According to the commission, an option should be considered for imposing heavy fines on those who keep one constituency and force by-elections after vacating the other.
  • As per Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act, a candidate can contest from a maximum of two constituencies.
  • Till the year 1996, it was allowed to contest from more than two constituencies. Later this act was amended to fix the limit of only two constituencies.

Concerns related to the existing provisions:

Section 70 of the RPA bars candidates from representing two constituencies in the Lok Sabha/State Legislative Assembly. This means that, if a candidate wins both the constituencies, he is legally obliged to vacate one of the seats.

Pressure on Government Funds: In the second constituency where the seat has been vacated, the by-election process automatically starts immediately after the general election.

Negative impact on voter: Re-polling causes fatigue (travel, travel cost etc.) among voters. This makes them lose interest in the electoral process.

The Dinesh Goswami Committee Report (1990) and the Law Commission’s 170th Report on Electoral Reforms (1999) also made recommendations to restrict a candidate to contest from a single constituency.

The Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice is the nodal agency in the government to deal with the issues relating to the Election Commission.

Source – The Hindu

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