What is Article 329(b) of the Indian Constitution?

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What is Article 329(b) of the Indian Constitution? Blog Image

Overview:

The Election Commission (EC) recently invoked Article 329(b) of the Constitution, which prohibits judicial intervention in the working of the commission in the middle of the election process.

About Article 329(b):

  • Enshrined in Part XV of the Constitution, articles 324-329 specifically discuss elections
  • While Article 324 gives the poll panel powers to direct and control elections, Article 329, which has two clauses, concerns itself with the role of the judiciary in electoral matters. 
  • Article 329(a) says the “judiciary is not allowed to challenge the constitutionality of laws relating to the boundaries of electoral districts or the allocation of seats.
  • Article 329(b) as amended by the Constitution (19th Amendment) Act, 1966, provides that notwithstanding anything in the Constitution, no election to either House of Parliament or the Legislature of a State shall be called into question except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as may be provided for by or under any law made by the appropriate Legislature.
  • It stipulates that election-related inquiries are exclusively addressed through election petitions presented to the authority designated by that law. 
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951, furthers this clause as it empowers the high courts to hear and decide election petitions.
  • SC Rulings:
    • In the 1952 Ponnuswamy judgment (Ponnuswami v. Returning Officer Namakkal), the SC held that the word “electionin Article 329(b) connotes the entire electoral process commencing with the issue of the notification calling the election and culminating in the declaration of result, and that the electoral process once started could not be interfered with at any intermediary stage by courts.
    • The SC in K. Venkatachalam vs. A. Swamickan (1999) determined that Article 329(b) is inapplicable if the matter pertains to Articles 191 and 193, which deal with disqualifications and penalties related to parliamentary and legislative assembly membership, respectively.

Q1: What is the Election Commission of India (EC)?

It is a permanent Constitutional Body. The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950. The Constitution of India has vested in the EC the superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.

Source: What’s Article 329(b) invoked by EC in SC that restricts judicial intervention in poll process