Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act
1 . Qualification Matters
- Only elector can be representative. If not qualified to vote , then cant represent too.
- If seat is reserved for SC or ST, then only SC or ST can be elected. However, he may be registered voter from other constituency
- But in case of autonomous district of Assam, Sikkim, ST seat for Lakshadweep, elector should be enrolled in same constituency
|Rajya Sabha||Should have his name in electoral roll of Parliamentary Constituency at time of election (not necessarily from that state)|
|Legislative Council||Should be ordinarily resident of state|
|Lok Sabha||Should be listed in electoral roll of any Parliamentary Constituency in India|
|MLA||Should be listed in electoral roll of any Assembly Constituency in state|
2. Disqualification Matters
2.1 Disqualification on conviction for certain offences under Section 8
Under Section 8(1), 8(2) & 8(3) , Member will be Disqualified if convicted for these listed offences (even if punishment is just fine)
- Spreading communal hatred or promoting enmity between groups
- Offences related to rape
- Cruelty toward woman by husband & dowry
- Offence under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
- Importing or exporting prohibited goods
- Being a member or helping financially unlawful organisation
- if sent to jail for atleast 2 years for any other crime.
Disqualification in all above cases will be from date of conviction and if there is imprisonment then till 6 years from date of his release.
But Section 8(4) provide a caveat – ie If MP/ MLA/MLC appeal within 3 months of his conviction date for revision of such conviction then he would not be disqualified
2.2 Disqualification under Corrupt Practices
Under Section 123 , MLA or MP can be disqualified under Corrupt Practices which include
- Bribery – both giving & receiving monetary & non monetary benefits
- Undue influences like threats, divine grace etc
- Making race, religion, caste, sex, language etc as basis to get votes
- Promoting hatred among Indians
- Making statements on character or motives of other candidates which are false
- Hiring of vehicle for conveyance of electors
- Flouting expenditure norms
- Taking help of government servants – gazetted officers , member of armed forced etc
- Booth capturing – punishable with imprisonment not less than 1 year to 3 years
Case of person found guilty is referred to President for determination of question whether such person shall be disqualified or not & if yes then for what period (cannot exceed 6 years) . President decides in consultation with Election Commission & advice is conclusive
3. Political Parties
- Any association which calls itself a political party shall have to apply to Election Commission of India for registration
- Association’s memorandum shall contain specific provision that they bear allegiance to constitution of India
- Political party has to prepare report relating to contribution more than ₹20,000 in a year & submit it to Election Commission of India
4. Right to Vote
- All persons who are enrolled on electoral roll has right to vote
- If person votes at more than one constituencies all his votes would be deem to be void .
- Person in jail & lawful detention cant vote but in preventive detention can vote
Prelims Questions : Right to Vote is Constitutional Right while Right to Contest is Legal Right.
5. Disputes regarding Elections
- Election disputes are to be tried by respective High Courts .
- Election petition is the only way to challenge election.
Important cases regarding RPA : Lily Thomas vs Union of India 2000
- Cause of case, following provisions of RPA,1951
|Sec 8(1) & (2)||Those convicted for crimes listed under Section 8 (1), (2) of the Act will be disqualified for a minimum period of six years, even if the punishment is just a fine. (As mentioned above)|
|Sec 8(3)||If person is convicted under a punishable offence and jailed for 2 years , then he will be disqualified for 6 years|
|Sec8(4)|| But if MP/ MLA appeal within 3 months of his conviction date for revision of such conviction then he would not be disqualified |
Due to this provision, MLA & MPs who have been convicted for murder of even Cabinet members were not disqualified.
- Supreme Court gave verdict in favour of Lily Thomas and declared Section 8(4) as unconstitutional .
Importance of Judgement
- It is small step in cleaning Indian politics and stop ‘CRIMINALISATION OF POLITICS’
- Will play role in reducing muscle power
- Leaders like Lalu Prasad have been disqualified and is showing desired affect
- Parties are now cautious to give tickets to tainted leaders whose cases are running in the court and chances of being decided during the life of house.
- Bar candidates against whom charges have been framed by the court in heinous crimes from contesting elections
- Lifetime ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections (as suggested by Election Commission of India in Nov 2018)
- Set up fast track courts to exclusively prosecute and dispose criminal cases pending against MPs & MLAs within a year.
- Bar convicted politicians from becoming office bearer of a party.
Is seeking votes on name of Religion come under corrupt practice?
Judgement ( Abhiram Singh v/s C.D. Comachen (dead)) 2017
- 4-3 Ruling
- “religion, race, caste or language would not be allowed to play any role in the electoral process”
- election of a candidate would be declared null and void if an appeal is made to seek votes on these considerations.
- Word HIS include both candidate and elector (ie broader definition)
- Dissenting Judgement :
- RPA does not require such a broad interpretation and the word “his” does not include the elector/voter.
- Markers such as religion are deeply rooted in the structure of the Indian society.
- The bench abstained from commenting on the “Hindutva” case.
Criticism of the judgement
- Doesn’t take into account the social realities: Election and consolidation of Dalits in elections has played important role in the emancipation of Dalits
- Historical Reason : People have faced discriminations and deprivations on the ground of religion, caste and language. Hence they can’t be stopped from mobilising on these basis.
- Indian version of secularism is different from Western Concept & doesn’t make wall between Religion and State .
- violates the right to freedom of speech under Article 19.
- It “outlaws” parties like Akali Dal & Muslim League whose name violates this interpretation.
- Practical Reason : On-ground and door-to-door campaigning can’t be monitored. Hence, difficult to implement
Favour of the judgement
- Legislative history behind Section 123 of RoPA was to “curb communal, fissiparous and separatist tendencies. ” Present interpretation of Supreme Court is in line with this.
- Religion can have no place in secular activities like elections
- (Psychological Reason) Elections should be fought and votes should be casted on rational reasons .
- Will help in promoting fraternity and integrity of nation
- Inline with principles of secularism which is a basic feature of the Constitution
Earlier Judgement – Hindutva Judgement, 1995
- Supreme Court had held that since “Hinduism” and “Hindutva” amounted to a “way of life”, not every election speech that invoked these words amounted to a corrupt electoral practice.