What are the rules on contesting seats? | Explained

How many seats can a candidate contest? When were the guidelines amended?

Published - May 12, 2024 04:09 am IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi files his nomination papers at Rae Bareli on May 3, 2024. Mr. Gandhi was accompanied by party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Mr. Gandhi’s mother and former party president Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra and brother-in-law Robert Vadra. Photo: Special Arrangement

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi files his nomination papers at Rae Bareli on May 3, 2024. Mr. Gandhi was accompanied by party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Mr. Gandhi’s mother and former party president Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra and brother-in-law Robert Vadra. Photo: Special Arrangement

The story so far: When Congress leader Rahul Gandhi announced that he would contest from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, questions were raised on why he took the decision after the Kerala election was over — he is a contestant from Wayanad too. According to the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, a candidate is permitted to contest an election from up to two constituencies, but he or she can hold only one seat at a time if elected from both.

Is there a cap?

A sub-section, 33 (7), of the RPA, allowing a candidate to contest from two seats, was introduced through an amendment in 1996, prior to which there was no bar on the number of constituencies from which a candidate could contest. However, Section 70 of the same Act stipulates that a candidate can hold only one seat at a time, regardless of whether he or she has been elected from more than one seat. Thus, if a candidate wins from two seats, a byelection is necessary from the seat he or she vacates. Former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami said the opposition to a candidate contesting from many seats was basically due to the fact that many byelections had to be conducted after polls were over. Since then, the Election Commission of India and the Law Commission have both proposed that the RPA Act should be further amended to allow one person to contest from only one seat, given that a candidate cannot hold two seats at the same time. Mr. Gopalaswami said this was proving to be difficult as “no politician would like to reduce it to one from two, and laws are made by parliamentarians.”

Editorial | In the frontline: On Rahul Gandhi contesting from Rae Bareli

Moreover, a person has to be a voter in a particular State to contest Assembly polls from there. But to contest in a Lok Sabha election, a person can be registered as a voter in any constituency of the country. If a person is a registered voter in any constituency, he or she can contest from any seat in India, except Assam, Lakshadweep and Sikkim.

What is the minimum age to contest?

The minimum age for a person to contest Lok Sabha and Assembly polls is 25 years, while one can become a member of the Rajya Sabha or the State Legislative Council only at 30 years. There is no minimum educational qualification needed to contest general elections in India. Candidates must be citizens of India, registered in some constituency of the country as a valid voter and must not have been convicted of any offence punishable by more than two years.

How can a candidate be disqualified?

A person shall be disqualified from being chosen as or being a member of either House if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State; if he or she is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; if he or she is an undischarged insolvent; if he or she is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state.

Under the RPA Act, if a person is convicted of any offence and sentenced to an imprisonment of two years or more, this will lead to his disqualification to contest elections. Even if this person is out on bail, after the conviction and his appeal is pending for disposal, he or she is disqualified from contesting an election. For some categories of serious offences, one may incur disqualification for any conviction, regardless of the quantum of punishment.

Over the years, what are some of the changes undertaken by the ECI regarding candidates?

The ECI has amended the rules for political party funding during elections. The new regulations include decreasing the cash donation limit from ?20,000 to ?2,000. The Electoral Bond Scheme, notified in January, 2018, allowing anonymous contributions to limit use of cash, was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2024. For the 2024 polls, the ECI has banned cash transportation in bank vehicles after sunset. The Commission is also monitoring non-scheduled chartered flights for cash, liquor, and drug movement. ADR founder member Jagdeep Chokkar says there have been many interventions, but the desired effect has not come about as parties have found a way to circumvent it.

Mr. Gopalaswami points out that no law has been brought in with regard to muscle power of candidates. “That falls under criminal law which are enacted by politicians themselves,” he says. But he adds that the presence of central paramilitary forces has been able to put a stop to practices like booth-capturing, a point strongly rebutted by Prof. Chokkar who says the “use of para-military forces is a shame in a democracy.”

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news