“Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world.”

  • Roald Dahl

The 17th Lok Sabha election witnessed a series of violent clashes, hate speeches and violation of the model code of conduct, for which the election commission had to intervene several times and check upon the candidates in order to conduct the election, which is to be performed like a solemn ritual in a democracy.

Law is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon which arms an ordinary citizen to fight back the corruption or any illegal activities in the society. Therefore, a look into the Representation of the People Act, 1951(Act) will provide the insight, as to how to fight the illegal practices which demeans the very essence of democracy.   

Whenever a corrupt practice related to election comes to notice, under Section 80 of the Act, a candidate or a voter can challenge before the Election Commission in writing or to the Police Officer concerned. This election petition is to be adjudicated by the concerned High Court[1] and the petition must be submitted within 45 days of declaration of result[2]. As per Section 83 of the Act, the petition must contain the concise statement of material facts, full particulars of the alleged corrupt practice and the signature of the Petitioner.

Section 100 of the Act, lays down the grounds on which an election can be declared to be void. There are basically four grounds, which includes – a. a returned candidate was not qualified b. any corrupt practices have been committed c. any nomination has been improperly rejected and d. the result of the election has been materially affected.

The definition of ‘Corrupt Practices’ is defined under Section 123 of the Act.  It is also to be noted, that this ‘corrupt practice’ is not necessarily to be committed by the candidate himself but by anyone related to the candidate or his agent, who committed the act with the consent of the candidate. The section has clearly laid down the list of acts which are to be termed as a corrupt practice. The list contains eight major headings, which includes bribery, undue influence, any appeal to vote on the basis of religion, race, caste, community or language, personal vilification, hiring or procuring any vehicle for the conveyance of elector, expenditure by the candidate in contravention of Section 77 of the Act, obtaining any assistance for the furtherance of the prospect of that candidates election from government official, and lastly booth capturing.

These are the major sections one should know in order to challenge any election result. Because participating in the election or voting is not only our legal right conferred by the Constitution of India, but it is also our duty as a responsible citizen of the country to uphold the very soul and the spirit of democracy.  

[1] S. 80A, The Representation of the People Act, 1951

[2] S. 81, The Representation of the People Act, 1951