SC to hear PIL to bar contesting of multiple seats

Last Updated 27 March 2019, 13:25 IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to list after two weeks a petition seeking a direction to restrict candidates from contesting elections simultaneously from more than one constituency.

A bench presided over by Justice S A Bobde posted the petition filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay after two weeks.

Upadhyay mentioned the pending petition and sought an urgent hearing, saying a prominent leader from a political party is going to contest ensuing Lok Sabha polls from two seats. He, however, did not name Congress President Rahul Gandhi, whose name is doing the rounds for Wayanad constituency in Kerala, apart from Amethi.

Notably, the Union government had told the apex court that a candidate should be allowed to contest from two seats saying the legal provision, in this regard, provided for a wider choice to the polity as well as candidates.

A candidate is allowed to contest from up to a maximum of two constituencies in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly polls.

The Election Commission, however, had supported the plea.

The petition sought to declare as invalid and ultra-virus Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, which allows a person to contest a general election or a group of by-elections or biennial elections from two constituencies.

"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 by-election against the resultant vacancy, is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency which the candidate is quitting from," it said.

It also said that in July 2004, the Chief Election Commissioner had urged the then Prime Minister for amendment of Section 33(7) of the RP Act 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," it said, adding that the Centre has not taken appropriate steps in this regard till date.

It also sought to discourage independent candidates from contesting elections, saying they were often connected with the issue of "fragmented voting" and instability in the electoral system.

(Published 27 March 2019, 08:35 IST)

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