The Election Commission (EC) of India backed a petition in the Supreme Court that seeks a ban on a candidate contesting an election from more than one seat — a practice that often leads to a bypoll.
The Representation of People Act allows a nominee to contest an election from two constituencies simultaneously. The petition filed by BJP’s Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeks this provision scrapped. India’s apex election body said that it supports the proposal — something it has sent to the Centre in 2004 and 2016.
EC said that allowing a candidate to contest from two seats is an “avoidable and unnecessary” burden the public exchequer has to bear. In case the candidate wins from both seats, the poll panel has to re-conduct an election for the seat that is vacated.EC said it was also unfair to voters of the winning candidate who vacates their constituency and the party brings in another candidate in an effort to retain it. The Centre has not acted on EC’s proposal that it sent twice. EC said that the Law Commission also agreed in its 255th report on electoral reforms with its proposal and found it inappropriate for a candidate to contest from two constituencies.
The poll panel said that in case the provision of one candidate contesting from two seats is not scrapped, the apex court should direct the introduction of a provision that compels such candidates to finance re-polls if they are held.
A bench led by CJI Dipak Misra directed Attorney General KK Venugopal to file a reply that states the Centre’s view on the issue.