SYLLABUS SECTION: GS II (ELECTION REFORMS)
WHY IN THE NEWS?
Recently, Chief Election Commissioner has made a fresh push for amending the Representation of People’s Act,
1951 (RPA) to bar people from contesting from more than one seat.
- Under India’s election laws, if a legislator wins their election from two seats,
- They have to vacate one of the two seats, where a by-election has to be held within six months.
Election Commission Proposals:
- The Election Commission (EC) wants to discourage candidates from contesting from multiple constituencies,
- And has proposed a fine for lawmakers who fight for two seats and win both.
- The proposal said that members of state assemblies who successfully contest from two seats and vacate one later will have to pay ₹5 lakh.
- For parliamentarians, this figure is ₹10 lakh.
- EC also sought the power to de-register political parties,
- So that it can control tax evasion by parties that are not contesting polls.
|Dinesh Goswami Committee report (1990) and the 170th report of the Law of Election Commissioner,
On Electoral Reforms (1999) also included recommendations for restricting one contestant to one seat.
- EC does not have the power to deregister a political party – a move still pending approval from the government –
- It can take up the issue of financial irregularities and seek mandatory compliance from parties,
- Which includes sources and manner of donations, disclosures by companies, details of bank account, and expenditure statements.
- EC has also urged the government to amend the Representation of the People Act to provide two-year imprisonment in case of filing a false affidavit.
REASONS FOR THE PROPOSALS:
- The financial burden on the public exchequer and the manpower and other resources for holding the by-election against the resultant vacancy.
- It would be an injustice to voters of the constituency, from which the candidate is quitting from
- The rationale behind the fine was to make the lawmaker bear some of the cost of the bypoll necessitated by their decision to fight from two seats.
- Section 70 of RPA bars candidates from representing two constituencies in the Lok Sabha/State Assembly, meaning that if a candidate won both seats, he or she is legally mandated to vacate one of the seats in favor of the other.
- The EC can propose the reforms, the final approval is given by the government which may have to introduce amendments in Parliament so as to update the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- The reform was first proposed in 2004 to amend the existing laws to reflect the same.
- It was in 1996 that an amendment to the Representation of the People Act restricted the number of seats to two that a candidate can contest in one election.
Read more: UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS
SOURCE: THE HINDU