Candidate should not contest two seats, EC tells SC

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New Delhi, Dec 12: The Election Commission on Monday told the Supreme Court that a candidate should not contest from two constituencies as the court sought Attorney General K.K. Venugopal's assistance in the matter.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed petitioner-lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to serve a copy of the petition to the Attorney General.

Upadhyay, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, has challenged Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951 that allows a person to contest elections to Parliament and state assemblies from two constituencies and sought an end to the practice.

The petitioner also sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission for taking steps to discourage independent candidates from joining the election fray which he said held the potential of fragmenting votes and creating instability.

Section 33 (7) says that "... a person shall not be nominated as a candidate for election (a) in the case of a general election to the House of the People ... from more than two Parliamentary constituencies..." The same holds good for elections to assemblies. 

Upadhyay said that "One person one vote" and "one candidate one constituency" is the dictum of democracy. However, as the law stands today, a person can contest elections for the same office from two constituencies simultaneously, he said.

The petitioner said that while a candidate can contest an election simultaneously from two seats, under Section 70 of the Representation of the People Act he can retain only one and has to vacate the other one.

Referring to the Election Commission recommendation in 2004, the petitioner said that way back on July 5, 2004, the then Chief Election Commissioner had urged the Prime Minister to go for an amendment to Section 33(7) to provide that a person cannot contest from more than one constituency for the same office simultaneously.

Alternately, the CEC had said, if the existing provision to permit a candidate to contest from two seats had to be retained then the cost of re-election to the seat he wins but vacates should be borne by the said candidate.

He referred to the Law Commission report that agreed with the Election Commission that a person cannot contest from more than one seat at a time.

"The Goswami Committee in 1990 and the Law Commission in its 170th report in 1999 recommended the same," said the petition.