What is an election petition? – All you need to know.

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What is the news?

An election petition has been filed by West Bengal Chief Minister in the Calcutta High Court. She has challenged the Assembly election result of Nandigram constituency where she had contested and lost.

What is an election petition?
  • An election petition is a procedure for inquiring into the validity of the election results of Parliamentary or local government elections. In other words, it is a means under law to challenge the election of a candidate in a Parliamentary, Assembly or local election.

Where one can file an election petition?

  • Election petition filed in the High Court of the particular state in which the election was conducted. Therefore, only the High Courts have the original jurisdiction on deciding on an election petition.
What is the limitation period of an election petition?
  • An election petition calling in question an election shall be filed within the time period of 45 days from the date of declaration of results.
  • Moreover, the Representative of the People Act of 1951 suggests that the High Court should try to conclude the trial within 6 months. But it usually drags on for much longer even for years.
Read more: [Yojana Summary] One Nation One Election

Grounds on which an election petition can be filed

Under Section 100 of the Representation of the People(RP) Act, an election petition can be filed on the following grounds:

  • That on the day of the election, the winning candidate was not qualified to contest
  • That the winning candidate, his poll agent or any other person with the consent of the winning candidate has indulged in a corrupt practice.
    • Section 123 of the RP Act has a list of what amounts to corrupt practice, including bribery, use of force or coercion, appeal to vote or refrain from voting on grounds of religion, race, community and language.
  • Improper acceptance of the nomination of the winning candidate or improper rejection of a nomination.
  • Malpractice in the counting process which includes improper reception, refusal or rejection of any vote, or the reception of any vote which is void.
  • Non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or the RP Act or any rules or orders made under the RP Act.
Also read: Annual review of state laws 2020

What happens if the court finds that a contention of malpractice is correct?

  • Under Section 84 of the RP Act, the petitioner may ask that the results of all or the winning candidates may be declared void.
  • In addition to that, the petitioner may also ask the court to declare her (in case the petition is filed by a candidate) or any other candidate as the winner or duly elected.

So the verdict on an election petition, if found in favor of the petitioner may result in a fresh election or the court announcing a new winner.

Previous cases where election results were declared void:

  • Indira Gandhi Election: In 1975, the Allahabad High Court verdict had set aside Indira Gandhi’s election from Rae Bareli constituency, four years earlier on grounds of corrupt practice.

Source: Indian Express

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