Describe the key changes introduced in process of Rajya Sabha elections via the Representation of People (Amendment) Act of 2003. Why these changes were challenged in court?

Two key changes were introduced in process of Rajya Sabha elections via the Representation of People (Amendment) Act of 2003 as follows:

  • Getting away with the requirement of domicile for candidates contesting the Rajya Sabha elections 
  • Providing Open ballot for Rajya Sabha elections

These changes were challenged in the court on the ground that they affected the federal features and violated basic structure of the constitution. The argument was that Rajya Sabha is a reflection of the federal character of the country, its composition shaped by the popular will of the various State legislatures. The requirement that Rajya Sabha members must be electors registered in the State they represent was in keeping with the purpose for which the Rajya Sabha was created to provide representation to the various States within the constitutional framework.
Another argument was that the Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution had also recommended that a candidate should be a voter from the State which he would represent in the Rajya Sabha.
However, Supreme Court quashed these petition saying that the State has the right to be represented in the Upper House by its chosen representative. It cannot be said that federalism is affected by doing away with the requirement of domicile and providing open ballot.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Describe the key changes introduced in process of Rajya Sabha elections via the Representation of People (Amendment) Act of 2003. Why these changes were challenged in court?

Published: September 24, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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