The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayyar’s petition seeking review of a Constitution bench upholding the constitutional validity of the amendments in the electoral laws, which did away with the domicile criterion and secret ballot system in Rajya Sabha elections.
A five-Judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal, which had on August 22 upheld the validity of 2003 amendments to Sections 3, 59, 94 and 128 of the Representation of People Act doing away with domicile requirement and secret ballot, declined Nayyar’s plea for review.
Deciding a bunch of PILs by Nayyar, a former Rajya Sabha Member, and three others against the said amendments, the Bench, also comprising Justices KG Balakrishnan, SH Kapadia, CK Thakker and PK Balasubramanyan had held that “the impugned amendments cannot be assailed as unconstitutional.”
Nayyar had sought review of the judgment on the ground that secret ballot was an essential feature of democracy across the world and the court could not have done away with it.
Further it contended that to dispense with the domicile criteria for Rajya Sabha candidates would adversely affect the federal structure of Indian polity.
Dismissing the petitioners’ contention that the doing away with the domicile requirement for candidates in Rajya Sabha elections was against the principle of federalism, a basic structure of the Constitution, the court had held "the principle of federalism is not territory related."
It had further said residence or domicile was not an essential ingredient of the basic structure and the composition of the Upper House.
It was neither a constant factor nor a constitutional requirement but a matter of qualification prescribed by Parliament in exercise of its power under Article 84, the court ruled.
The Bench justified the end of secret ballot for Rajya Sabha polls, saying it would wipe out corruption and bring in transparency in the system.
"The amendment has been brought in to avoid cross voting and wipe out evils of corruption as also to maintain the integrity of our democratic set up," it said.
It also ruled that MLAs voting against party whip in Rajya Sabha cannot be disqualified under the anti-defection law.