ARTICLE 329(b) (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     29th May 2024        
output themes

Context: The Election Commission (EC) recently invoked Article 329(b) of the Constitution, which prohibits judicial intervention in the working of the commission in the middle of the election process.

Article 329(b)

  • About: No election to either House of Parliament or to the House or either House of the Legislature of a State shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as may be provided for by or under any law made by the appropriate Legislature.
  • Objective: To prevent the court from hearing the matter and said this provision prohibits judicial intervention in the working of the commission in the middle of the election process. 
  • Constitutional Context: Article 329(b) is enshrined in Part XV of the Constitution, specifically addressing electoral matters alongside articles 324-329.
  • Role of the Judiciary: It outlines the judiciary's limited role in electoral disputes, particularly in regards to challenging the constitutionality of electoral laws.
  • Amendment: Amended by the Constitution (19th Amendment) Act, 1966, it establishes the exclusive method of addressing election disputes through election petitions.
  • Election Petitions: Election-related inquiries are solely addressed through petitions presented to designated authorities as per laws enacted by the appropriate Legislature.
  • Legal Framework: The Representation of the People Act, 1951, provides the legal framework empowering high courts to hear and decide election petitions.

Court verdicts on election petitions

  • Inderjit Barua vs Election Commission of India 1985: It excluded electoral roll preparation from the definition of “election.” It further stated that no election could be challenged on the grounds of defects in electoral rolls.
  • K. Venkatachalam vs A.Swamickan 1999: It determined that Article 329(b) is inapplicable if the matter pertains to Articles 191 and 193, which deal with disqualifications and penalties related to parliamentary and legislative assembly membership, respectively.
  • Hari Krishna Lal vs Atal Bihari Bajpai 2002: Allahabad hifh court clarified that only candidates officially recognised by the Election Commission are eligible to file election petitions.
  • N.C. Patel vs State of Gujarat 2007: It affirmed that election petitions can only be filed under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, and not by way of a writ petition.