The Supreme Court has observed that the right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right and imposed Rs 1 lakh cost on a litigant who sought to contest Rajya Sabha polls without a proposer to propose his name.
A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia said: "An individual cannot claim that he has a right to contest election and the said stipulation violates his fundamental right, so as to file his nomination without any proposer as is required under the Act."
The top court noted that petitioner Vishwanath Pratap Singh filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court raising a grievance that a notification for election to Rajya Sabha was issued on May 12, to fill up the seats of members retiring from June 21 to August 1, and the last date for submission of the nomination was May 31.
"The stand of the petitioner is that he collected the nomination form but was not allowed to file his nomination without a proper proposer proposing his name. The petitioner sought his candidature without proposer which was not accepted and, therefore, he claims that his fundamental right of free speech and expression and right to personal liberty has been infringed."
Citing a judgment of Rajbala vs State of Haryana (2016), the bench said this court held that the right to contest for a seat in either of the two bodies is subject to certain constitutional restrictions and could be restricted further only by a law made by the Parliament.
Thus, the petitioner did not have any right to contest election to the Rajya Sabha in terms of the law made by the Parliament, it said, adding that the Representation of People Act, 1950 read with the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 has contemplated the name of a candidate to be proposed while filling the nomination form.
"We find that the writ petition before the High Court was entirely misconceived and so is the present special leave petition. The right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right. It is a right conferred by a statute," the court said.
In the order passed on September 9, the top court said, "We dismiss the present special leave petition with cost of Rs 1,00,000. The said cost be paid to the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee within four weeks. Pending application(s), if any, stands disposed of."