Centre Seeks Dismissal of PIL to Bar Candidates From Contesting More Than One Seat

The writ petition failed to show "any infringement" of any fundamental or constitutional rights of the people at large, the Centre said.

New Delhi: The Centre today opposed a PIL in the Supreme Court for barring candidates from contesting more than one constituency in a general election, saying that the issue of electoral reforms would need legislative action and that the plea failed to establish that fundamental rights of citizens were being infringed upon in any way.

In an affidavit, the central government said that the writ petition maybe dismissed as it has failed to show “any infringement” of any fundamental or constitutional rights of the people at large.

“It is prayed that amending section 33 (7) of the Representative of Peoples Act may cause the infringement of the rights of the candidates contesting elections as well as curtails choice of candidates to the polity,” said the affidavit filed by K.K. Saxena, deputy secretary with the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The affidavit would be considered by a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The petition was filed by BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay.

The affidavit said that a person has been allowed under the Act to contest election from two constituencies simultaneously and the law has to be amended for disallowing the same.

“It is humbly submitted that the answering respondent is conscious of the need for electoral reforms in our country; however, electoral reforms is a complex, continuous, long-drawn and comprehensive process…,” it said, adding that relevant laws would be made from time to time.

The objective of curtailing the right of a candidate to stand for election from two seats would require a legislative amendment, said the affidavit and sought dismissal of the PIL.

The Election Commission of India, in its affidavit in December last year, had quoted its 2004 proposals on electoral reforms and said that the law should be amended to ensure that a person cannot contest more than one seat.

The poll panel had also said that its proposal to bar candidates from contesting more than one seat was rejected by a parliamentary standing committee way back in 1998, which had taken note of the view of an all-party meeting favouring to retain the provision.

Upadhyay has also sought directions to the authorities to take appropriate steps to discourage independent candidates from contesting parliamentary and state assembly elections as suggested by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).

He said the question of independent candidates is often connected with the issue of fragmented voting and instability in the electoral system and referred to the law commission’s 170th report, which said “the time is now ripe for debarring independent candidates from contesting Lok Sabha elections”.

“Similarly, the NCRWC has recommended discouragement of independent candidates, who are often dummy candidates or defectors from their party or those denied party tickets,” said the petition.