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Election Commission tells Supreme Court it supports `one candidate, one seat`

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it supports the proposal to allow one candidate to contest from only one constituency in an election. The EC expressed this view in an affidavit it filed in the petition over the matter.

The Supreme Court had in December 2017 issued notices seeking replies from the Election Commission and the Centre on the issue. At the time, the Supreme Court had said the practice of one candidate contesting multiple seats was a drain on the exchequer since it necessitated bypolls. The petition against the practice had been filed by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The petition relates to the practice of political parties across the country to field senior leaders from more than one seat in a bid to ensure victory. If they win from multiple seats, these leader are then required to vacate other seats and continue to hold only one. This means a general election is usually followed closely by a bye-election to the seats that have been vacated.

A prominent recent example of this was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from two seats – Vadodara in Gujarat and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He had won from both places in the general elections held in May 2014, and subsequently vacated the Vadodara constituency. This meant a bye-election was held in Vadodara just three months later, in September 2014, which was won by the BJP’s Ranjanben Dhananjay Bhatt.

Upadhyay’s petition challenges Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Act, which governs the conduct of elections. He also sought the top court’s direction against independent candidates in the election.

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