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Centre Opposes 'One Candidate-one Seat' PIL, Cites 'Wider Choice to Polity and Candidates'

Under the existing legal regime, a candidate is allowed to contest from up to a maximum of two constituencies in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly polls.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 17, 2018, 7:49 AM IST
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Centre Opposes 'One Candidate-one Seat' PIL, Cites 'Wider Choice to Polity and Candidates'
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New Delhi: Taking a stand contrary to the Election Commission, the Central government has told the Supreme Court that there should not be any restraint on candidates against contesting from more than one seat.

In its affidavit, the government has maintained that a candidate should be allowed to contest from two seats since this legal provision provides for “wider choice to the polity as well as candidates”.

Under the existing legal regime, a candidate is allowed to contest from up to a maximum of two constituencies in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly polls.

In the 2014 general elections, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had contested from two seats — Vadodara and Varanasi. He later retained Varanasi.

The PIL by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay has however sought doing away with law on the ground that it leads to wastage of public money in getting the election conducted once again for the constituency which is left vacant by the winning candidate. Upadhyay also pointed out that it is not fair on the voters as well if the person they voted for decides to vacate the seat.

But the Centre sought dismissal of Upadhyay's PIL, stating that the existing legal provisions provided for a balance as far as rights of the candidates and choices in polity are concerned.

Backing the provisions in the Representation of People Act, the Centre said that the petitioner has failed to show that the unsigned legal provision “in any sense is unworkable or overly onerous to the exchequer.”

It added that amending Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Act, which allows a candidate to contest simultaneously from two seats, may cause infringement of the rights of the candidates, contesting elections as well as curtail choice of candidates to the polity.

The Centre’s stand is at variance from the EC’s views in the matter. The poll panel has favoured amendment in the Act to restrict a candidate to contest from one seat.

The EC said that letting a candidate contest from two seats is an “avoidable and unnecessary” burden on public exchequer.

It is also injustice to voters of the winning candidate who opts to vacate that constituency and retain another, maintained the commission in its affidavit.

The affidavit asserted that the EC stands firm on its proposals sent to the government in 2004 and 2016, which have not been acted upon so far.

The Commission has also said that in case the top court thinks that such a restraint is not required, an express provision should be made in the RP Act to ensure that the candidate is made to pay for the re-poll for the constituency he opts to quit.

In 2004, EC had proposed that the candidate should be asked to shell out Rs 5 lakh in case of an Assembly seat and Rs 10 lakh for the Lok Sabha. ​

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