The Supreme Court has sought the response of the Centre and the Election Commission to a public interest writ petition, seeking to quash provisions of the Representation of the People Act which permit a candidate to contest elections from two constituencies.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam issued the notice last week on the petition filed by the Voters Party, a registered party, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 33 of the RP Act, which allows candidates to contest two seats, and Section 70, which permits a candidate to give up one if he wins both seats.

The petitioner wanted the court to direct the Centre to repeal the provisions that allow a person to file nomination papers from two constituencies, and in case he manages to win from both, “he/she is bound by the existing law to vacate one of the seats, thereby forcing an unwarranted by-election and its related expenses.”

The petitioner said it acts against the fundamental principles of representative democracy, besides distorting the faith of the people who have elected him. In such a situation, the elected candidate should bear the cost of the entire by-election in the vacated constituency.

The petition pointed out that prominent politicians had made it a habit of contesting from two constituencies, and many a time, they won from both. After the declaration of results, the winning candidate vacated one seat, warranting an expeditious by-election and consequent wasteful expenditure, given the spiralling cost of holding elections.

“The provision of law is very often misused by the contestants as a security/insurance at the cost of the general public/taxpayer, which is forced to bear the burden of a candidate,” it said.