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Upholding Constitutional Validity Of Section 34 RP Act, Court Says- Serious Candidate Will Find Resources To Make Deposit For Contesting In Election: Orissa High Court

The Orissa High Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 34 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in the case of Uma Charan Mishra v. Union of India(WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No.10633 of 2018). This section states that eligible citizens may only run for office as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the State if each of them deposits Rs.10,000/- and as a Member of Parliament (MP) if they deposit Rs.25,000/.

Brief Facts Of The Case: The constitutionality of Section 34 of the RP Act was contested before the High Court by Uma Charan Mishra, the president of the Odisha Durniti Sangharsa Mancha. According to the petitioner, more than 22% of Indians live below the poverty line, which is defined as having an annual income of not less than Rs. 27,000, according to the 2011 census. Therefore, excluding a substantial portion of the populace from running in an election because they cannot pay the required security money would turn it into a privilege of the wealthy, which would harm democracy and the system of free and fair elections, he argued.

In response to this argument, the respondents argued that serious candidates, who may even have to borrow money to file a nomination, would be able to secure a refund of the amount placed if they received enough votes without experiencing any significant prejudice to themselves.

Issue: The question therefore raised in this case was whether the 2009 Amendment to Section 34 of the RP Act, which increased the deposit amount for contesting elections to the State Legislative Assembly and the Parliament, violated the Constitution’s fundamental principles.

Judgement: The Orissa High Court upheld Section 34 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as constitutionally valid. Section 34 states that eligible citizens only can run for office as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the State if each of them deposits Rs. 10,000/- and as a Member of Parliament (MP) if each of them deposits Rs. 25,000/. The bench that included Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice R.K. Pattanaik stated, “A serious candidate for an election, who is keen on contesting, will be able to find the resources to make the deposit of Rs. 10,000/- for an election to the Legislative Assembly or Rs. 25,000/- for the Parliament.”

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY PRAKIRTI JENA

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