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Importance of People’s Representation Act in Elections


The Act was enacted for the citizens of the country to know about the candidates who fill the seats of the Houses of the Parliament and each State based on the terms of their qualification and disqualification. This will benefit the citizens to vote as it will help them get to know the best candidate while standing for elections. A candidate gets disqualified if there are any criminal allegations against them or even if the applicant has been sentenced previously for any offense that they have committed or been complicit in. 

Representation of People’s Act, 1951: 

This Act comes under Article 324 to 329 of Part XV of the Constitution. It deals with the electoral system of the Country. The Constitution allows the Parliament to make provisions in matters relating to the elections in the Parliament and State Legislatures. In exercise of this power, the Parliament has enacted laws like the Representation of the People Act 1950 (RPA Act 1950), Representation of the People Act 1951 (RPA Act 1951), and Delimitation Commission Act of 1952. This Act deals with the disqualification of people’s representatives as mentioned above. ‘Election’ is defined in Section 2 (d) of Representation of People Act, 1951 as “an election to fill a seat or seats in either House of Parliament or the House or either House of Legislature of a State.” ‘Conviction’ is defined as “an outcome of a criminal prosecution which concludes in a judgment that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged.”

Grounds of disqualification for a Representative: 

Section 8 deals with the disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offenses. This Section enumerates that:

Remedies available to the candidates who are disqualified:

How did the Act affect the West Bengal 2021 elections: 

A plea challenging the Election Commission’s decision to conduct assembly elections over eight phases in West Bengal was filed in the Supreme Court. The plea filed seeks the apex court’s direction to the poll panel to stop it from conducting eight-phase elections in the state as it violates Article 14 (right to equality before law) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. The plea, which may come up for hearing in a few days, also seeks a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to register an FIR into the alleged chanting of religious slogans during electioneering in West Bengal.

The chanting of “Jai Shri Ram, and other religious slogans are creating disharmony” and is an offense under the IPC and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the plea said. “Whether using a provocative religious slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is for electoral benefits as well as others is violative of S.123(3) & 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” reads the legal question raised in the plea.

Any kind of appeal by any religious persons, group, temple, mosque, church, and others to cast their vote in favor of a specific party must be counted as a serious violation of the law. It is an offense not only under the Act but also under the IPC. The plea reads, it is akin to committing fraud upon the constitution of India alongside citizens of India, and they must be barred from fighting elections or participating in any election in the future. The plea also stated that the election commission and parliament did not frame any law and rule to conduct elections in different phases to favor any one  political party in any state. Therefore the impugned decision of the election commission is unlawful and violated Art.21. It must be quashed and elections must be held in one phase in Bengal as well as in Assam, like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry.

Sanchali Bhowmik, a 2nd-year law student (L.L.B Hons.) at Jindal Global Law School

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