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Section 123(3) of the RP Act, 1951 UPSC NOTE

 What does Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 stipulate?

  • Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) provides that appeals by a candidate.

  •  Or any other person with the consent of a candidate, to vote or refrain from voting on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language is a corrupt electoral practice. 

  • Section 123(3A) denounces any attempt by a candidate to promote feelings of enmity or hatred among citizens on these grounds during elections. 

  • The RP Act further provides that anyone found guilty of corrupt electoral practice can be debarred from contesting elections for a maximum period of up to six years.

What about the Model Code of Conduct laid down by the Election Commission of India?

  • The Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates is a set of norms which has evolved with the consensus of political parties. 

  • They have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code

  • It binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit. 

  • This code, which began to be implemented strictly in the 1990s.

  • It provides that no party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes, religious or linguistic communities. 

  • It also provides that there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.

  • Mosques, churches, temples or other places of worship shall not be used as a forum for election propaganda. 

  • Though the MCC does not have any statutory backing, it has come to acquire strength in the past three decades because of its strict enforcement by the ECI.

Have the Courts ever convicted leaders for corrupt electoral practices?

  • It is pertinent to note that before 1961, Section 123(3) of the RP Act provided that ‘systemic’ appeal by a candidate.

  • Only on the grounds of religion, race, caste or community will amount to a corrupt electoral practice. 

  • However, in order to curb communal, fissiparous and separatist tendencies, the word ‘systemic’ was omitted through an amendment in 1961.

  • This meant that even a stray appeal for success in the elections on the ground of one’s religion or narrow communal affiliation would be viewed with disfavour by the law.

  • There have been innumerable instances in the past where various parties and its leaders have blatantly appealed for votes in the name of religion. 

  • There are leaders across political parties against whom cases have been registered under the RP Act and the Indian Penal Code in this regard.

  • The only notable leader who was convicted by the Supreme Court for this corrupt electoral practice was Bal Thackeray of Shiv Sena in the year 1995. 

  • The ECI on such occasions at best bars leaders from campaigning, for violation of the MCC, for a short period of two to three days.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Section 123(3) of the RP Act, 1951 UPSC NOTE
Section 123(3) of the RP Act, 1951 UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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