The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Centre and the Election Commission of India on a PIL pleading that Section 77 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, be struck down as it distinguishes arbitrarily between a person contesting from a political party and an Independent when it comes to expenditure on campaigning.
The court has sought responses on the PIL filed by advocate Amit Sahni who said Section 77 RPA provides special privilege and benefits to candidates contesting from national and regional political parties vis-à-vis candidates not connected to any party and is therefore, is violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
“Section 77 of RP Act, 1951, came into effect on 28-08-1956 by way of Second Amendment of 1956 (27 of 1956), which provides that expenditure incurred by leaders of political party campaigning for its party candidate shall not be counted towards the expenditure of candidate. Further its explanation elaborates ‘Leaders of Political Party’ that such person cannot be more than 40 in case of National Party and 20 in case of Regional Party.
“The arbitrariness and inequality created by section 77 of RP Act can be readily understood from the very fact that it distinguishes between candidate contesting from some affiliated party and a person contesting as an Independent and not affiliated from any party,” Sahni said in the PIL.
He says the political parties seem to have enacted the impugned section for their convenience and candidates always get benefitted by star campaigners in the name of promoting the party.
“Every person from poor, disempowered and voiceless to mightiest, richest and most influential; everyone has equal right to vote. And that right to vote in a democratic system also very much includes right to contest election. And right to contest election is completely defeated if it is not fairly and equally, at very least, provided to everyone,” he said.