On what grounds a people’s representative can be disqualified under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951? Also mention the remedies available to such person against his disqualification.
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The Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides for the conduct of elections to the Houses of Parliament and to the Houses of the State Legislature, the provisions regarding qualification and disqualification for the membership, and remedies of disputes in connection with such elections.
The Act of 1951 has laid down certain criteria for disqualifications. According to it, the person is disqualified if he/she:
◾is found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections;
◾is convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years (except for the detention under a preventive detention law);
◾has failed to lodge an account of his/her election expenses within the time;
◾has any interest in government contracts, works or services;
◾is a director or managing agent or holds an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25% share;
◾has been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State;
◾has been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery;
◾has been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
The Act of 1951 also provides for the following remedies against disqualification:
◾An election can be called in question only by an election petition. Election petitions are to be heard in the High Court with its appeal lying at the Supreme Court. They act as a mechanism of grievance redressal for the affected parties.
◾Furthermore, on the question of whether a legislator is subject to any of the disqualifications the final authority to decide rests with the President (in case of members of Parliament) and the Governor (in case of members of State legislature).
◾However, the President or Governor shall act according to the advice of the Election Commission of India.
◾In case of any enquiry, the Election Commission is conferred the powers of a civil court for summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person or any evidence.
◾Besides, after a legislator is disqualified, the Election Commission may, on certain grounds, remove any disqualification or reduce the period of any disqualification.