REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE
The Indian Constitution, under its article 324 to 329 empowers the government to make provisions for the conduct of free and fair elections in the country.
This part of the Constitution provides for
- Election Commission (Art.324),
- Universal suffrage (Art.325)
- Adult suffrage (Art.326).
- Parliament to enact provisions for elections (Article 327)
- States to enact provisions for house or houses of the state legislature, if the Centre has not provided for the same. (Article 328)
- Courts are barred from questioning the Delimitation Act brought by the Parliament and disputes related to elections can be called in question only by an election petition in a manner provided by and to the authority decided by the appropriate legislature. (Article 329)
Accordingly, the Parliament under Article 327 enacted certain provisions, namely
- The Representation of People Act 1950, which provides for allocation of seats and delimitation of constituencies of the Parliament and state legislature, officers related to conduct of elections, preparation of electoral rolls and manner of filling seats in the Council of States allotted to Union Territories.
- The Representation of People Act, 1951, which provides for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
- Delimitation Commission Act of 1952, which provides for the readjustment of seats, delimitation and reservation of territorial constituencies and other related matters.
- The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952, which provides for the conduct of Presidential and Vice- Presidential election and mechanism for the settlement of any dispute arising out of such elections.
REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE ACT 1950
The act provides for:
- Allocation of seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha.
- Delimitation of constituencies for elections in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha
- Qualification of voters for elections
- Preparation of electoral roll
- The officers Involved
ALLOCATION OF SEATS
Parliamentary Constituency (Lok Sabha)
It is a constituency provided by law for the purpose of elections to the House of the People. (Section 2(f), RP Act 1950)
Not more than 530 members directly elected from territorial constituencies in the states (Article – 81 of Constitution of India)
- Not more than 20 members to represent the Union Territories
- Not more than 2 members to represent the Anglo-Indian Community
Assembly Constituency (Vidhan Sabha)
It is a constituency provided by Law for the purpose of elections to the Legislative Assembly of a State (Section 2(b), RP Act 1950)
- A Number of Assembly Constituencies comprise a PC.
- Not more than 500 and not less than 60 members are directly elected from the territorial constituencies in the state (Article 170 of Constitution of India)
- Special Provision with respect to the State of Sikkim, State of Mizoram, State of Arunachal Pradesh and State of Goa (Article 371 of Constitution of India)
- Both Parliamentary Constituency and Assembly Constituency are territorial except the Sangh Assembly Constituency in Sikkim
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS FOR ELECTIONS
Qualification for Registration under Section 19, RP Act, 1950:
- Every person can be registered as an elector who:
- Is not less than 18 years of age on the qualifying date
- Is ordinarily resident of the concerned Assembly constituency
- Is a Citizen of India
Disqualification for registration in an electoral roll under Section 16, RP Act 1950:
- Not a citizen of India
- Of unsound mind declared by a competent court
- Indulged in corrupt or fraudulent practices
- Registration of a person more than once in a electoral roll
- Enrollment of elector before expiry of period of disqualification
DELIMITATION OF CONSTITUENCIES FOR ELECTIONS
Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
- In this process, the number of seats allocated to different states in Lok Sabha and the total number seats in a Legislative Assembly may also change.
- The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.
- It also aims at a fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
RPA 1950 provides for the following regarding Delimitation
- Consolidation delimitation orders. (Section 8)
- Power of Election Commission to maintain Delimitation Order up-to-date. (Section 9)
- Power of Election Commission to determine the constituencies to be reserved for Scheduled Tribes in certain States. (Section 9A)
- Allocation of seats in the Legislative Councils. (Section 10)
- Delimitation of Council constituencies. (Section 11)
- Power to alter or amend orders (Section 12)
- Procedure as to orders delimiting constituencies. (Section 13)
PREPARATION OF ELECTORAL ROLLS
It is a listing of all those persons registered to vote in a particular area.
Section 15 RP Act, 1950 – “Every constituency should have an electoral roll
- No separate electoral roll is prepared/revised for parliamentary Constituency
- Electoral Rolls for Parliamentary constituency is provided under section 13 D – RP Act, 1950
- Electoral Rolls for Assembly constituency is prepared as per section 15, RP Act, 1950 under the superintendence, direction and control of the election commission
- Electoral Rolls are organized as geographically defined parts
- Parts are numbered and organized as geographically identified sections
- Sections denote locality and area details and contain household wise individual elector details
- Each part has an identified polling station where electors cast their votes on the poll day
Electoral Roll is revised under:
- Section 21, RP Act 1950: Before every general election
- Section 14(b), RP Act 1950: Every year on basis of qualifying date 1st day of January.
- Section 21 of RP Act, 1950: Validity and operation of electoral roll continue if not revised
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE ACT
- The act provides for direct elections for filling seats in every constituency.
- The Delimitation Commission will determine the extent of the constituency of each state and Union Territory (except Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh).
- The Election Commission shall identify constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, and Nagaland.
- The President of India has the power to alter constituencies after consulting the Election Commission of India.
- The Election Commission, after consulting the Governor of the state will nominate a Chief Electoral officer and a district-level Election Commissioner after consulting the state government.
- An electoral roll will be prepared for every constituency. No person shall be enrolled for more than one constituency and may be disqualified if he/she is not a citizen of India or maybe of unsound mind and is debarred from voting.
- Only the Union government after consulting the Election Commission of India amend the rules under the act and any such amendment will not be available for judicial scrutiny under any Civil Court.
REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE ACT, 1951
The Act was endorsed by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.
The Act provides guidelines to the Election Commission for free and fair conduct of election.
- It was established that after India’s independence, an elected constituent assembly was set up to develop the constitution.
- Most of the articles of the constitution came into force on 26 January 1950, the Republic Day.
- Part XXI of the constitution contained the translational provisions.
- Articles 379 and 394 of Part XXI which contained provisions for provisional parliament and other articles which contained provisions like citizenship came into force on 26 November 1949, the date on which the constitution was drafted.
- The provisional parliament enacted the Act vide Act No.43 of 1951 for the first general election conducted on 25 October 1951.
- The Representation of People Act, 1951 was enacted by the provincial government of India to scrutinize the election process before the first general elections.
- The acts were modified many times but one of the noteworthy alterations is the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1966 (47 of 1966), which eliminated the election tribunals and transferred the election petitions to the High Court whose orders can be appealed to Supreme Court.
The election disputes regarding the election of President and Vice-President are directly heard by the Supreme Court.
THE ACT PROVIDES FOR:
- the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State,
- qualification and disqualification of members of both houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and the state legislatures (State Legislative Assembly and State Legislative Council)
- the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and
- Dispute redressal regarding the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
The original RPA 1951 contains 13 parts and 171 sections. Part 2 deals with qualifications and disqualifications of the members of the parliament and the state legislatures. Part 4A deals with the registration of political parties. Part 5A deals with the free supply of certain materials to candidates of recognised political parties. Part 13A mentions the Chief Electoral Officer.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE ACT
- Only a qualified voter can contest elections of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
- On the seats reserved for SCs and STs, only candidate belonging to that category can contest the election.
- The elector can contest election in any constituency irrespective of the state/Union Territory where the electorate is present for which he/she is eligible to vote.
- If a person is found guilty for promoting enmity, hatred between classes, bribery, influencing elections, rape or other heinous crimes against women, or spread religious disharmony, practice untouchability, import-export prohibited goods, sell or consume illegal drugs and other chemicals or terrorism in any form or may have been imprisoned for at least 2 years shall be disqualified for six years after his/her release from the jail to contest elections.
- The person shall also be disqualified if he/she is found engaged in corrupt practices or excluded for related government contracts.
- Declaration of electoral expenses is a must, failing which will lead to disqualification of the candidate.
- Every political party must be registered with the Election Commission of India whose decision regarding this will be final.
- In case of any changes in the name or address of the political party, the party must intimate the Election Commission as soon as it does so.
- A political party may take donations from any of the person or company within India except the government-owned companies. Foreign contributions are not allowed.
- Every political party must report the donation of more than ₹20,000 received from any person or company.
- National Party:If a party gets minimum 6 per cent of valid votes for assembly elections in more than four states or wins at least 2 per cent seats in Lok Sabha from at least three states is recognized as a National Party.
- State Party:If a political party gets a minimum 6 per cent of the votes in the state assembly elections or wins at least 3 per cent of total seats in the state assembly will be a state political party.
- The candidate must declare his/her assets and liabilities within 90 days from his/her oath-taking day.
- Petitions related to elections shall be filled in High Court and can be appealed in Supreme Court. The High Court must conclude the petition within six months of its filling. The decision in such case should be intimated to the Election Commission. It can be appealed in the Supreme Court within 30 days.
- The Election Commission has powers similar to the Civil Court to summon and enforce any person or any evidence. It can regulate its procedure.
- For elections-related works, people from local authorities, universities, government companies, and other institutions under state or center governments shall be provided to the Election Commission.
- The candidate should deposit ₹25000 as security for Lok Sabha elections, and all other polls ₹12500 should be deposited. SC/St candidates get 50 percent concession in security deposition.
OFFENSES RELATED TO ELECTIONS DEFINED UNDER THE ACT
- Promoting enmity and hatred
- Booth capturing and removal of ballot papers
- Breach of official duty and supporting any candidate
- Selling liquor within two days before polling to its conclusion
- Calling for public meetings within 48 hours before voting and creating disturbances
GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION
- Disqualification on conviction for certain election offences and corrupt practices in the election.
- A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years
- Disqualification on ground of corrupt practices
- Disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty
- Disqualification for office under Government Company
- Disqualification for failure to lodge account of election expenses
- Disqualification for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery
- A person must not have been punished for preaching and practicing social crimes such as Untouchability, Dowry, Sati etc.
Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1966
- It abolished the election tribunals and transferred the election petitions to the high court’s whose orders can be appealed to Supreme Court.
- However, election disputes regarding the election of President and Vice-President are directly heard by the Supreme Court.
Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1988
- It provided for adjournment of poll due to booth capturing and Election Voting Machines.
Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2002
- New section 33A related to Right to Information was inserted in the 1951 act.
Representation of People (Amendment), 2017
- The amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1950 and the Representation of People Act, 1951 allowed to exercise their franchise remotely from abroad, by appointing a proxy to cast the vote on their behalf, subject to certain conditions.
- It made provisions of the acts gender-neutral, like, replacing the term ‘wife’ in section 20A of the Representation of People Act, 1950 with ‘spouse’.