The Supreme Court today granted a last opportunity to the Centre to file its response to a PIL seeking to restrict a candidate from contesting from more than one constituency in a general election.
The Election Commission of India (ECI), in its affidavit in December last year, had quoted its 2004 proposals on electoral reforms and said that the law should be amended to ensure that a person cannot contest from more than one seat.
The poll panel had also said that its proposal to bar candidates from contesting from more than one seat was rejected by a parliamentary standing committee way back in 1998, which had taken note of the view of an all-party meeting favouring to retain the provision.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud posted the matter for hearing in the second week of July.
"Let the matter be listed in the second week of July 2018 to enable Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor General, to file a counter affidavit. The petitioner may file rejoinder affidavit, if any.
"To put it succinctly, the pleadings shall be completed by the first week of July 2018. Be it made clear, no further time shall be granted to either of the parties. Be it noted, as we had requested (K K) Venugopal, Attorney General of India, to assist the court, he is ready to assist. However, we have been compelled to adjourn the matter as time has been sought for filing the counter affidavit," the court said.
The poll panel, in its response to the PIL filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, had said there was no change in its 2004 proposal.
"As regards the proposal of the Election Commission of India that there should be an express provision in law requiring a person who contests and wins election from two seats, resulting in a bye-election from one of the two constituencies, to deposit in the government account an appropriate amount of money being the expenditure for holding bye-election, it is further stated that the amount proposed at that point of time was Rs 5 lakh for state Assembly and Rs 10 lakh for election to the House of People," the ECI had said.
The poll panel had submitted that there was no change in its stand on this proposal but the amount proposed in the year 2004 may be enhanced appropriately.
The ECI had also said that there was no proposal moved by it in the list of current pending proposals to prohibit independent candidates from contesting elections.
Upadhyay has sought directions to the authorities to take appropriate steps to discourage the independent candidates from contesting parliamentary and state Assembly elections as suggested by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).
He has said the question of independent candidates is often connected with the issue of fragmented voting and instability in the electoral system and referred to the Law Commission's 170th report which said the time is now ripe for debarring independent candidates from contesting Lok Sabha elections.
"Similarly, the NCRWC has recommended discouragement of independent candidates, who are often dummy candidates or defectors from their party or those denied party tickets," the petition has said.