Features of the Representation of People Act, 1951
Article 324 to 329 of Part XV of the Constitution deals with the electoral system in our country. Constitution allows Parliament to make provisions in all matters relating to elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
In exercise of this power, the Parliament has enacted laws like Representation of the People Act 1950 (RPA Act 1950), Representation of the People Act 1951 (RPA Act 1951).
The act was passed by the parliament under Article 327 of the constitution. It provides for the conduct of election to the parliament and state legislatures. It also clarifies about the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses.
1. According to the act, a person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the Lok Sabha unless:
i. He is a member of any Scheduled Caste of any state and is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency; in the case of a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes in any State.
ii. He is a member of any Scheduled Tribe of any state and is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency in the case of a seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.
iii. He is an elector for any Parliamentary constituency; in case of any other seat.
2. Qualification for membership of the Rajya Sabha: A person shall not be qualified to be chosen as a representative of any State or Union territory in the Rajya Sabha unless he is an elector for a Parliamentary constituency.
3. Also, a person can be disqualified on below grounds:
a) Disqualification on conviction for certain election offences and corrupt practices in the election.
b) A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years
c) Disqualification on ground of corrupt practices
d) Disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty
e) Disqualification for office under Government Company
f) Disqualification for failure to lodge account of election expenses
g) Disqualification for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery
h) A person must not have been punished for preaching and practicing social crimes such as Untouchability, Dowry, Sati etc.
The Act provides guidelines to the Election Commission for free and fair conduct of election. The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1966 abolished the election tribunals. It 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.