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Report No. 255

Chapter XVI

Independent Candidates

A. Previous Suggestions

16.1. The question of independent candidates is often connected with the issue of fragmented voting and instability in the electoral system. The 170th Law Commission report dealt with the issue and concluded, "the time is now ripe for debarring independent candidates from contesting Lok Sabha elections." Similarly, the NCRWC recommended the "discouragement" of independent candidates, who are often "dummy" candidates or defectors from their party or those denied party tickets.551

The rationale for permitting only those with "political standing" to contest was premised on the abysmal performance of independents in the 1998 general elections where, as the Indrajit Gupta Committee Report noted, of the 1900 contesting independent candidates, only 6 (0.65%) won while 885 (47%) lost their deposits.552

551. NCRWC Report, supra note 13, at para 4.20.3.

552. LCI, 170th Report, supra note 108, at para 3.3.1

16.2. The underlying basis for such views stems from the perceived "non-seriousness" of "some" of the independent candidates, as can be seen from the example cited in the 170th Law Commission Report.553 They talk about the case of BJP leader Mr. V.K. Malhotra, against whom quite a few persons, with the same name "V.K. Malhotra", stood as independent candidates in the Lok Sabha election in a bid to confuse voters and "mislead the masses".

The Commission's proposed alternative was that any interested potential candidate "can always form a political party" to contest the elections, although such party would be required to poll at least 5% of the total valid votes. This was to ensure that the banning of independents did not contribute to a proliferation of parties.554 Consequently, the Commission recommended the insertion of a new sub-section (1) to existing sections 4 and 5, RPA to the effect that:

553. Ibid., at para 3.3.3.

554. Ibid., at paras 3.2.15.3 and 3.3.6.1.

"Only the political parties registered with the Election Commission under section 11(4) shall be entitled to put forward candidates to fill a seat in the House of the People [or Legislative Assembly]"

16.3. The NCRWC's alternative proposal to discourage non-serious or "dummy" candidates is to only permit candidates with a "track record" to contest elections, namely if the candidates had won any local election or had been nominated by at least twenty elected members of Panchayats, Municipalities, or other local bodies. Additionally, independent candidates who fail to garner at least 5% of the total valid votes polled, should not be permitted to contest as independents for the same office for at least six years.555

555. NCRWC Report, supra note 13, at paras 4.20.3 and 4.20.4.

16.4. The ECI in a bid to discourage "non-serious candidate who poll a negligible number of votes" requested an amendment to section 34, RPA for (a) increasing the security deposit to Rs. 20,000 for Parliamentary and Rs. 10,000 for Assembly elections; and (b) empowering them to prescribe the security deposit before every general election.



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