SC agrees to examine plea to bar politicians from contesting from two seats

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SC agrees to examine plea to bar politicians from contesting from two seats
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to adjudicate on whether politicians could be barred from contesting from more than one seat in an election and sought assistance from the Attorney General (AG) to decide the issue.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to serve the copy of his petition to the office of AG so that he could take a stand on the issue on the next date of hearing.

Advocate Amit Sharma, appearing for Election Commission, said that EC was in favour of not allowing politicians from contesting from multiple seats saying it resulted in wastage of public money as when fresh election was conducted, the candidate had to vacate one seat after winning in both the constituencies. He said that Commission had already requested the Centre to amend the law for barring people from fighting election from multiple constituencies in an election.

The petitioner also contended that Law Commission had also recommended Centre to amend the law but the Centre had not taken any step to implement the suggestion.

“In 2004, the Chief Election Commissioner urged the Prime Minister for amendment of Section 33(7) to provide that a person cannot contest from more than one constituency for the same office simultaneously. The ECI 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,” the petition said.

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.

“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,” the petition said.

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