What is Forfeiture of Security Deposit in Elections in India?
India is considered the largest democracy in the world. To run the country's democratic system properly elections are usually conducted at a span of 5 years. Candidates contesting in the election have to give details (to the Election Commission) about their qualifications, total assets, marital status etc.
What is the Bail Amount?
As per Section 34 1 (a) of the Representation of the People Act,1951; it is mandatory for the general candidates to deposit security amount of Rs.25000 in case of Parliamentary constituency and Rs. 10, 000 to fight an election in Assembly Constituency.
It is worth to mention that As per Sec. 34 (1) (b) candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribe have to deposit only half of the amount for these two elections. Therefore, this amount deposited with the Election Commission is called a security deposit in the election.
What is called the Forfeiture of Security Deposit in Elections
Section 158 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, explains the ways of returning the security deposit of the candidates in different exams. In these ways, there is a way that determines which candidate's security deposit will be confiscated by the election commission of India.
As per the rule; if a candidate gets less than 1/6th of the total number of valid votes cast in any constituency then his security deposit will be confiscated. This means that the candidate who had deposited Rs. 25, 000 or Rs. 10,000 or any other amount to the Election Commission will not be returned by the Election Commission of India.
For example; if one lakh votes were cast in an assembly seat, in order to save the security deposit, every candidate would have to secure 1/6th of the total number of valid votes cast for that assembly seat. It means every candidate must secure more than 16,666 votes.
In First Lok Sabha Elections in 1951-52, almost 40% i.e. 745 out of 1874 candidates forfeited their deposits. Since then, almost all Lok Sabha Elections witnessed a continuous trend of lost deposits. Its peak came in the 11th Lok Sabha Elections in 1996, where 91 percent or 12688 out of 13952 candidates lost their deposits.
Security Deposit is Returned in the following circumstances;
1. If the name of the candidate not shown in the list of contesting candidates it means either his/her name is being rejected by the Election Commission or he/she has withdrawn candidature. Or
2. If the candidate dies before voting starts; Or
3. If the candidate won the election; Or
4. If a candidate does not wins but he/she secures more than 1/6 of the total valid votes cast in the constituency. Or
5. If the candidate wins the election but does not get 1/6 of the total valid votes, then his security deposit is returned.
Yes, there have been many such cases in our country when even an election-winning candidate does not get 1/6 of the total legal votes. But it is a democracy where there is no bar to getting minimum votes to secure victory in the election.
Note: If the candidate receives exactly 1 / 6th of the total valid votes, still his security deposit is forfeited by the Election Commission.
Why the Election Commission requires a security deposit?
This amount is deposited so that only the serious candidates file the nomination to contest the election. But the EC's move does not seem to be quite effective because the amount required for the security deposit is very meagre and a lot of candidates files nomination to get the cash from other parties to withdraw their nomination.
In conclusion, it can be said that the Election Commission of India takes many steps to conduct free and fair parliamentary and assembly elections in the country. So the deposit of security amount is one of them, but it is the need of the hour that the Election Commission should increase the amount of security deposit to scrutinize the serious candidates.