What does it mean for a candidate to lose an ‘election deposit’?

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Source: The post is based on the article What does it mean for a candidate to lose an ‘election deposit’?published in Indian Express on 8th December 2022

What is the News?

The state Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have concluded. As with all elections, while there will be candidates who will rake in huge victory margins, there will also be contestants who will lose their Security Deposit – an indicator of clear rejection at the hands of the voters.

What is an election security deposit?

An election security deposit is an amount that is to be deposited with the Returning Officer when a candidate files their nomination. 

This is to be submitted either in cash, or a receipt must be enclosed with the nomination paper, showing that the said sum has been deposited on the candidate’s behalf in the Reserve Bank of India or in a Government Treasury.

The main purpose of this practice is to ensure that only genuinely intending candidates end up filing the nomination to be a part of the electoral process.

Is the amount the same for all elections?

No, it depends on the particular election being conducted, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951 mentions different amounts depending on the level of election.

When is a candidate said to ‘lose’ their security deposit?

As per the Representation of the People Act,1951, the deposit has to be forfeited at an election if:

1) The number of valid votes polled by the candidate is less than 1/6th of the total number of valid votes polled or 

2) In the case of the election of more than one member, it would be 1/6th of the total number of valid votes so polled divided by the number of members to be elected. This refers to elections by proportional representation method, as is the case in Rajya Sabha. 

If the candidate does meet the threshold, the deposit shall be returned as soon as practicable after the result of the election is declared.

Note: If in a general election, a candidate is a contesting candidate in more than one parliamentary constituency or in more than one assembly constituency, not more than one of the deposits shall be returned, and the others shall be forfeited.

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