CIVIL

How to decide Election Dispute?

In INDIRA NEHRU GANDHI VS SHRI RAJ NARAIN [ALL SC 1975 NOVEMBER] it is held

Supreme Court in the case of Kesavananda Bharati,it was held by majority that the power of amendment of the Constitution contained in Article 368 does not permit altering the basic structure of the Constitution. All the seven Judges who constituted the majority were also agreed that democratic set up was part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Democracy postulates that there should be periodical elections, so that people may be in a position either to re-elect the old representatives or, if they so choose, to change the representatives and elect in their place other representatives. Democracy further contemplates that the elections should be free and fair, so that the voters may be in a position to vote for candidates of their choice. Democracy can indeed function only upon the faith that elections are free and fair and not rigged and manipulated, that they are effective instruments of ascertaining popular will both in reality and form and are not mere rituals calculated to generate illusion of deference to mass opinion. Free and fair elections require that the candidates and their agents should not resort to unfair means or malpractices as may impinge upon the process of free and fair elections. Even in the absence of unfair means and malpractices, sometimes the result of an election is materially affected because of the improper rejection of ballot papers. Likewise, the result of an election may be materially affected on account of the improper rejection of a nomination paper. Disputes, therefore, arise with regard to the validity of elections.

For the resolving of those disputes, the different democratic countries of the world have made provisions prescribing the law and the forum for the resolving of those disputes. To give a few examples, we may refer to the United Kingdom where a parliamentary election petition is tried by two judges on the rota for the trial of parliamentary election petitions in accordance with the Representation of the People Act, 1949. Section 5 of Article 1 of the U S Constitution provides that each House (Senate and the House of Representatives) shall be judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members. Section 47 of the Australian Constitution provides that until the Parliament otherwise provides, any question respecting the qualification of a senator or of a member of the House of Representatives, or respecting a vacancy in either House of Parliament, and any question of a disputed election to either House, shall be determined by the House in which the question arises. Article 55 of the Japanese Constitution states that each House shall judge disputes related to qualifications of its members. However, in order to deny a seat to any member, it is necessary to pass a resolution by a majority of two thirds or more of the members present. Article 46 of the Iceland Constitution provides that the Althing itself decides whether its members are legally elected and whether a member is disqualified. Article 64 of the Norwegian Constitution states that the representatives elected shall be furnished with certificates, the validity of which shall be submitted to the judgment of the Starting. Article 59 of the French Constitution provides that the Constitutional Council shall rule, in the case of disagreement, on the regularity of the election of deputies and senators. Article 41 of the German Federal Republic Constitution states that the scrutiny of elections shall be the responsibility of the Bundestag. It shall also decide whether a deputy has lost his seat in the Bundestag. Against the decision of the Bundestag an appeal shall lie to the Federal Constitutional Court. Details shall be regulated by a federal law. According to Article 66 of the Italian Constitution, each Chamber decides as to the validity of the admission of its own Members and as to cases subsequently arising concerning ineligibility and incompatibility. In Turkey Article 75 provides inter alia that it shall be the function of Supreme Election Board to review and pass final judgment on all irregularities, complaints and objections regarding election matters during and after elections. The function and powers of the Supreme Election Board shall be regulated by law. Article 53 of the Malaysian Constitution provides that if any question arises whether a member of a House of Parliament has become disqualified for membership, the decision of that House shall be taken and shall be final.

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