Topic : Representation of the People Act, 1951
Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: Indian Polity
What is Representation of the People Act, 1951 of India?
The Representation of People Act, 1951(RPA) is an act of Parliament of India, which provides for the following:
- Conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State
- Details about the structure of administrative machinery for the conduct of elections
- Qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses
- 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.
More about on Representation of People’s Act:
- The Act was endorsed by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.
- The act also manages issues like qualification and disqualification of members of both houses of Parliament (LokSabha and RajyaSabha) and the state legislatures (State Legislative Assembly and State Legislative Council).
- 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.
- It was established that after India’s independence, an elected constituent assembly was set up to develop the constitution.
- 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.
Salient Features of the Representation of People Act 1951:
- Part 21 of the Indian Constitution drafted by the Constituent Assembly had mentioned for a provisional parliament.
- The provisional parliament enacted Representation of People’s Act 1951, so that general elections could be conducted according to the rules mentioned.
- Citation is Article No 43 of 1951.
- Representation of People’s Act contains 13 parts (2 parts added as amendments). Each part is divided into different sections making it a total of 171 numbered sections (including those sections which were repealed later.).
- Expressions not used in 1951 act, but listed in Representation of the People Act 1950 (43 of 1950) have the same meaning.
- Chief Electoral Officer is mentioned in section 13A.
- Corrupt practices are mentioned in section 123.
- Election means an election to fill a seat or seats in either House of Parliament or in the House or either House of the Legislature of a State other than the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Qualifications for Membership of Parliament:
- Qualification for membership of the Council of States (section 3 of RPA, 1951)
- A person has to be an elector for a parliamentary constituency in India to be qualified to be chosen as a representative of any State or UT in the Council of States.
- Thus, it is not necessary for a person to be an elector in that particular state or UT where he is contesting to be elected as a representative rather he can be an elector anywhere in India.
- Section 3 of RPA in its original form required the condition of elector ‘in that state or territory’, but this requirement was dispensed by Representation of People (Amendment) Act, 2003 and it was substituted by elector ‘in India’.
Qualifications for membership of a State Legislature (Section 5 of RPA, 1951):
- In order to contest a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes or for the Scheduled Tribes of that State or Union Territory, he must be a member of any of those castes or of those tribes, as the case may be, and must be an elector for any Assembly constituency in that State or Union Territory;
- In order to contest a seat reserved for an autonomous district of Assam, he must be a member of a Scheduled Tribe of any autonomous district and must be an elector for the Assembly constituency in which such seat or any other seat is reserved for that district; and
- In order to contest any other seat, he must be an elector for any Assembly constituency in that State or Union Territory.
- In order to be qualified to be chosen to fill any seat allocated to the Tuensang district in the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland for the period referred to in clause (2) of article 371A, he must be a member of the regional council referred to in that article.
- Section 5A mentions some special provisions regarding Qualifications for membership of Legislative Assembly of Sikkim.
A person can be disqualified on below grounds:
- 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.
According to the act, a person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the LokSabha unless:
- He is a member of any Scheduled Caste of any state and is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency; in the case of a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes in any State.
- He is a member of any Scheduled Tribe of any state and is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency in the case of a seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.
- He is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency; in case of any other seat.
Process of election to Parliament, State Legislatures in India:
- When the term of the legislature is over, or the legislature has been dissolved and new elections have been called, the Election Commission puts into effect the machinery for holding an election.
- In case of LokSabha elections have to be concluded before the limit of 6 months that is stated by the Constitution as the maximum possible duration of the last session of dissolved LokSabha and the recalling of new House.
- Schedule of elections is usually announced by the Election Commission in a major press conference a few weeks ago before the formal process starts. The model code of conduct immediately comes into effect after such an announcement.
- Formal process of an election starts with calling electorates to elect members of concerned legislature. As soon as notifications are issued, candidates can starts filling their nomination in the constituencies from where they wish to contest.
- These are scrutinized by returning officer of the concerned constituency, after last date for filling the nomination is over (that is about a week). Validly nominated candidates can withdraw from the contest within two days from the date of scrutiny. About two weeks, before actual poll date, is given to contesting candidates for political campaign.
- For national election polling is held on a number of days, this is because of the vast magnitude of operations involved and massive size of electorates. A separate date for counting is fixed and result is declared for every constituency by the concerned returning officer.
- The complete list of the members elected is compiled by the commission and it issues an appropriate notification for due constitution of house. This marks the completion of election process.
- It is necessary for a candidate to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation before an officer authorized by the election commission (Returning Officer or Asst. Returning officer).
- The candidate, in person, is required to make the oath or affirmation immediately after presenting his nomination paper and in any case not later than the day previous to the date of scrutiny.
Section 8 of the RPA 1951:
- A person convicted of an offence punishable under certain acts of Indian Penal Code, Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 etc. shall be disqualified, where the convicted person is sentenced to
- only fine, for a period of six years from the date of such conviction;
- Imprisonment, from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
- A person convicted for the contravention of—
- any law providing for the prevention of hoarding or profiteering; or
- any law relating to the adulteration of food or drugs; or
- Any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
- A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
- A fourth subsection, i.e., 8(4) was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. This subsection had provisions for convicted lawmakers to retain their seats if they filed an appeal within 3 months of their conviction.
What is Representation of the People Act, 1951 of India? Briefly discuss the Section 8 of the RPA 1951?