Election Petition

 

News: West Bengal CM has filed an election petition in the Calcutta High Court challenging the Assembly election result of Nandigram constituency, where she had contested and lost.

Election Petition:

  • The Election Commission’s role ends with the declaration of results, that is once the Returning Officer has signed the final result sheet (Form 20). After that, an election petition is the only legal remedy available to a voter or a candidate who believes there has been malpractice in an election.
  • Such a person can challenge the result through an election petition submitted to the High Court of the state in which the constituency is located. Such a petition has to be filed within 45 days from the date of the poll results; nothing is entertained by courts after that.
  • Although the Representative of the People Act of 1951 suggests that the High Court should try to conclude the trial within six months, it usually drags on for much longer, even years.

On which grounds it can be filed?

  • Section 123 of the RP Act has a detailed list of what amounts to corrupt practice, including bribery, use of force or coercion, appeal to vote or refrain from voting on grounds of religion, race, community, and language.
  • Improper acceptance of the nomination of the winning candidate or improper rejection of a nomination.
  • Malpractice in the counting process, which includes improper reception, refusal or rejection of any vote, or the reception of any vote which is void.
  • Non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or the RP Act or any rules or orders made under the RP Act.

Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (in brief):

  • It regulates the actual conduct of elections and by-elections. It provides administrative machinery for conducting elections. It deals with the registration of political parties.
  • Section 123 of the RP Act has a detailed list of what amounts to corrupt practice, including bribery, use of force or coercion, appeal to vote or refrain from voting on grounds of religion, race, community, and language.
  • It specifies the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of the Houses. It provides provisions to curb corrupt practices and other offences. It lays down the procedure for settling doubts and disputes arising out of elections.