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Report No. 255

C. Recommendations

16.8. The current Law Commission agrees with its previous views expressed in the 170th Report and the NCRWC and ECI's proposals for a number of reasons.

16.9. First, without doubt there is a proliferation of dummy and nonserious candidates in elections. Apart from the figures cited in the 170th Report, the success rate of independent candidates remains extremely lo.- a mere 0.53%.558 In 2014, 3,182 independent candidates contested the Lok Sabha elections and only 3 won seats.559

558. Independents in polls: Success rate a mere 0.53% since 1952, HINDU BUSINESS LINE, 7th April 2014,
<http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/politics/independents-in-pollssuccess-rate-a-mere-053-since-1952/article5882180.ece>

559. 2014 Lok Sabha polls: 3% votes, but only 3 seats for independents, ZEE NEWS, 17th May 2014,
<http://zeenews.india.com/news/general-elections-2014/2014-lok-sabha-polls-3-votesbut-only-3-seats-for-independents_932888.html>

16.10. Second, even the Supreme Court has weighed in on this issue in Dhartipakar Madan Lal Agarwal v. Rajiv Gandhi, AIR 1987 SC 1577 and recommended that Parliament devise ways "to meet the onslaught" of such non-serious independent candidates. The court expressed its concerns, saying:

"Some independent individuals contest election genuinely and some of them have succeeded also but experience has shown that a large number of independent candidates contest the election for the mere sake of contesting, with a view to make out grounds for challenging the election. Presence of a number of independent candidates results in confusion, for the millions of the illiterate and ignorant electors who exercise their electoral right on the basis of 'symbols' printed on the ballot papers.

The presence of large number of independent candidates makes the ballot paper of unmanageable size and ordinary elector is confused in the election booth while exercising his franchise. This leads to confusion."

16.11. Third, the Commission agrees with the ECI's views given in the context of increasing the security deposit, that a proliferation of candidates puts "unnecessary and avoidable stress" in election management and increases security, law and order, and election administration expenditure.561

561. ECI 2004 Reforms, supra note 203, at 3

16.12. Fourth, proposals to discourage non-serious candidates have envisaged increasing the security deposits required under section 34, RPA. However, even the 2009 amendment to the RPA increased the deposit from Rs. 10,000 in Parliamentary and Rs. 5,000 in Assembly elections to only Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 10,000 respectively (the amount being halved for candidates belonging to SC/ST categories in both cases).

Since many independents are defectors from their political parties, such an amount is not substantial enough to dissuade them or serve as an effect deterrent from standing, especially in the Assembly Elections. Moreover, the power to increase in security deposits does not lie with the ECI, and instead vests with the government which has not used it ofte.- prior to the 2009 amendment, security deposits were increased only in 1996 (before which it was Rs. 500 for Lok Sabha and Rs. 250 for Assembly elections).

16.13. Further, given that the RPA currently does not empower the ECI to frame rules under section 169 or prescribe the cap on election expenditure by an individual candidate under section 77 and Rule 90 of the Election Rules, the Law Commission does not recommend amending section 34 to vest such power with the ECI. As with section 169, RPA, the Central Government should prescribe the security deposit by legislative amendment notification in the official gazette, after consulting with the ECI.

16.14. Fifth, there exists a practice of independent candidates standing with the same name as candidates from recognised political parties, and this can cause a real confusion in the minds of the public, which might only look at the name of the candidate instead of the party symbol.

16.15. Finally, proposals put forth in its earlier 170th Report and in the NCRWC's Final Report that independents can always form a political party to contest elections if they want is correct inasmuch as it is cognizant of the fact that the process of forming a party under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 and registering it under section 29A, RPA is not difficult.

16.16. For all these reasons, the Law Commission endorses the debarring of independent candidates, although it does not endorse an amendment of section 34 to empower the ECI to fix the security deposit before every general election. Thus, a proviso should be added after sub-clause (d) of section 4 of the RPA stating:

"Provided that only the political parties registered with the Election Commission under sub-section (7) of section 29A shall be entitled to put forward candidates to fill a seat in the House of the People."

16.17. A similar proviso should be added after the first proviso in section 5, RPA stating:

"Provided further that only the political parties registered with the Election Commission under sub-section (7) of section 29A shall be entitled to put forward candidates to fill a seat in the Legislative Assembly of a State."



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