RAJYA SABHA ELECTION (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     1st March 2024        

Context: The Rajya Sabha elections in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka witnessed cross-voting by MLAs belonging to different parties. This has once again raised concerns about the sanctity of the election process.

Representation in Rajya Sabha Elections

  • Article 80: Representatives to the Rajya Sabha are elected indirectly by the elected members of their respective State Legislative Assembly, as per Article 80 of the Constitution.
  • Poll Requirement: Polls for the Rajya Sabha are only necessary if the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies available.
  • Historical Trends: Until 1998, Rajya Sabha elections typically had predictable outcomes with candidates elected unopposed based on party strengths in the Assembly.
  • Incident of Cross-Voting: The June 1998 Rajya Sabha elections in Maharashtra witnessed cross-voting, leading to the unexpected loss of a Congress party candidate.
  • Open Ballot System: Section 59 of the Act was amended to mandate voting in Rajya Sabha elections through an open ballot system, aimed at curbing cross-voting.

10th Schedule of Constitution

  • About: The Tenth Schedule was instituted in response to political instability caused by legislators' defections during the 1960s and 70s, leading to the downfall of elected governments.
  • Objective: The 52nd constitutional amendment in 1985 introduced the Tenth Schedule, aiming to ensure stability in elected governments by implementing an 'anti-defection' law.
  • Provisions: The Tenth Schedule dictates that members who voluntarily abandon their political party or vote against party instructions in a House face disqualification. Party instructions are issued by the 'whip,' a member of the 'legislature party' appointed by the 'political party.'

Supreme Court's Stand

  • Kuldip Nayar vs. Union of India, 2006: The Supreme Court endorsed the system of open ballot for Rajya Sabha elections, highlighting transparency as a deterrent to corruption.

oElected MLAs voting against their party candidate won't face disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, but may face disciplinary action from their party.

  • Ravi S. Naik and Sanjay Bandekar vs. Union of India, 1994: The act of voluntarily giving up membership under the Tenth Schedule extends beyond formal resignation and includes the member's conduct both inside and outside the house.