NEW DELHI: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that there should not be any restraint on candidates against contesting from more than one seat provision as it provides a wider choice to the polity as well as candidates. The government stand is contrary to the Election Commission, which is in favour of restricting a candidate to contest from one seat.
In its affidavit, the government maintained that a candidate should be allowed to contest from two seats since this legal provision provides for a wider choice to the polity as well as candidates.
Under the present system, a candidate is allowed to contest from up to a maximum of two constituencies in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly polls. In the 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi had contested from Vadodara and Varanasi. Later, he retained Varanasi.
A PIL by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, however, sought doing away with the law on the ground that it leads to wastage of public money. Upadhyay also pointed out that it is not fair on the voters as well if the person they voted for decides to vacate a seat. Opposing the PIL, the Centre had stated that the existing legal provisions provided for a balance as far as rights of the candidates and choices in polity are concerned.
The Election Commission panel, in its affidavit, had stated that in case the court thinks that such a restraint is not required, an express provision should be made in the Representation of People Act to ensure that the candidate is made to pay for the re-poll for the constituency s/he opts to quit.
In 2004, the EC had proposed that the candidate should be asked to shell out Rs 5 lakh in case of an Assembly seat and `10 lakh for the Lok Sabha if s/he quits the constituency.