(Sample Material) UPSC IAS Mains GS Online Coaching : Paper 2 - "Features of the Representation of People’s Act"

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Subject: General Studies (Paper 2 - Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Topic: Features of the Representation of People’s Act

Features of the Representation of People’s Act

Lok Sabha on 6 September 2013 passed the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013. Rajya Sabha already passed the bill on 27 August 2013. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha without any discussion.

The aim of the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 is to add a proviso to sub-section (2) of section 62 of the RP Act. It is important to note that on 10 July 2013, the Supreme Court of India upheld the decision of Patna High Court that people in police custody cannot contest the polls.

The Supreme Court of India, in the case of Chief Election Commissioner vs Jan Chowkidar, on 10 July 2013 upheld the decision of the Patna High Court that any person confined in prison or lawful police custody is not entitled to vote under the Section 62 of The Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. Also, the Apex Court gave its verdict that the imprisoned person is not entitled to contest the elections to the Parliament of India or the State Legislatures.

The Supreme Court of India in the case of Lily Thomas vs Union of India, held the decision that Section 8(4) of the RPA that enables the MPs and MLAs who are convicted of any crime or illegal offence while serving the term as the members, to continue in the office until the appeal has been disposed off against the conviction, is absolutely unconstitutional

The Representation of People Act, 1951

The Representation of People Act, 1951 is the Act of Parliament of India, which explains about the conduct of the elections of both the Houses of the Parliament. The Act also explains about the qualifications and disqualifications for the membership of these houses, offences or the corrupt practices.

The Act came into force by the provisional parliament under Article 379 of Indian Constitution. The Representation of People Act, 1951 was amended various times. The most notable amendment was the one which abolished election tribunals. The election petitions were thus transferred to the High Courts of India, the orders of which could be appealed to the Supreme Court of India.

The Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election. The acts were amended several times, but one of the notable amendments is the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1966 (47 of 1966), which abolished the election tribunals and transferred the election petitions to the high courts whose orders can be appealed to Supreme Court. However, election disputes regarding the election of President and Vice-President are directly heard by the Supreme Court.

Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act

• Part 21 of the the Indian Constitution drafted by the Constituent Assembly had mentioned for a provisional parliament. The provisional parliament enacted Representation of People’s Act 1951, so that general elections could be conducted according to the rules mentioned.
• “Election” means an election to fill a seat or seats in either House of Parliament or in the House or either House of the Legislature of a State other than the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
• The act, since is pivotal in preventing criminals being elected as representatives, is always quoted by Supreme Court and High Court in various judgments.
• Section 8 of Representation of Peoples Act 1951 deals with Disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences.
Making false declaration:— If any person makes in connection with–

(a) the preparation, revision or correction of an electoral roll; or

(b) the inclusion or exclusion of any entry in or from an electoral roll, a statement or declaration in writing which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.



(1) The Election Commission may nominate an Observer who shall be an officer of Government to watch the conduct of election or elections in a constituency or a group of constituencies and to perform such other functions as may be entrusted to him by the Election Commission.

(2) The Observer nominated under sub-section  shall have the power to direct the returning officer for the constituency or for any of the constituencies for which he has been nominated, to stop the counting of votes at any time before the declaration of the result or not to declare the result if in the opinion of the Observer booth capturing has taken place at a large number of polling stations or at places fixed for the poll or counting of votes or any ballot papers used at a polling station or at a place fixed for the poll are unlawfully taken out of the custody of the returning officer or are accidentally or intentionally destroyed or lost or are damaged or tampered with to such an extent that the result of the poll at that polling station or place cannot be ascertained.

(3) Where an Observer has directed the returning officer under this section to stop counting of votes or not to declare the result, the Observer shall forthwith report the matter to the Election Commission and thereupon the Election Commission shall, after taking all material circumstances into account, issue appropriate directions under section 58A or section 64A or section 66.

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