Sailent Features Of Representation Of Peoples Act




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People are the supreme power in the democratic country. Accordingly the People of India solemnly resolved that India is a democratic country. As we know that the India is a largest democracy in the world. The term Democracy mentioned in the Preamble of the constitution of India in the broader sense embracing not only political democracy but also social, economic and inclusive democracy.The Indian constitution provides for the representative parliamentary democracy under which the Executive is responsible for legislature for all its policies and actions.

An Act to provide 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.

The Representation of Peoples Act 1951 is an act enacted by the Indian provincial parliament before first general elections. The People’s Representation act provides for the actual conduct of elections in India. The act also deals with details 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).

Salient features      

  • Conducting of elections in the country.     
  • Administrative machinery for conducting elections.     
  • Poll. (Fixing time for poll)     
  • Election offences.     
  • Election disputes.     
  • By-elections.     
  • Registration of political parties.     
  • Elector: It is a person whose name is on the electoral list.     
  • Voter: who is eligible for voting but may not be on the electoral list.

The Representation of Peoples Act 1951: Section 8 deals with  Disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences. This section states that:

  • 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 — (i) only fine, for a period of six years from the date of such conviction; (ii) 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—(a) any law providing for the prevention of hoarding or profiteering; or (b) any law relating to the adulteration of food or drugs; or (c) 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.
  • Notwithstanding anything 8[in sub-section (1), sub-section (2) or sub-section (3)] a disqualification under either subsection shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a member of Parliament or the Legislature of a State, take effect until three months have elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.

Amendments

Even if a person is prohibited from voting due to being in police custody or in jail, as long as his name is entered on the electoral roll he shall not cease to be an elector. This implies that he can file nomination for an election.

The definition of “disqualified” in the Act has been amended. Currently, the definition of disqualified means disqualified for either being chosen as or being a Member of Parliament or a State Legislature. The amendment adds a ground to the definition that the disqualification has to be due to conviction for certain specified offences and can be on no other ground. Conviction for one of these offences would result in the person’s name being removed from the electoral roll and he would cease to be an elector.

On July 10, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest elections to legislative bodies. The RPA, 1951 states that any contestant to an election to legislative bodies has to be an “elector”, i.e., his name should be on the electoral roll and he is not subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 16 of the Representation of People Act, 1950. Among other things, that section disqualifies anyone from being on the electoral roll if he is disqualified from voting under the provisions of any law relating to corrupt practices and other offences in relation to elections. RPA, 1951 talks that anyone in prison or on the lawful custody of the police (other than preventive detention) is not entitled to vote.

An Act further to amended the Representation of the People Act, 1951(The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2013) came in to force on the 10th day of July, 2013. In section 7, in clause (b), after the words "or Legislative Council of a State", the words "under the provisions of this Chapter, and on no other ground" shall be inserted. A person whose name has been entered in the electoral roll shall not cease to be an elector.

The parliament (prevention of disqualification) amendment act, 2013 come into force on the 19th day of February, 2004. It has mentioned about the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes constituted under clause (1) of article 338 of the Constitution; the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes constituted under clause (1) of article 338A of the Constitution.


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