The Election Laws (Extension To Sikkim) Act, 1976

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The Election Laws (Extension To Sikkim) Act, 1976 (Act No. 10 of 1976) was enacted after twenty sixth year of the Republic of India i.e. on 26th January, 1976 by Parliament of India and came into force on 9th September, 1975. The said Act was to provide for the extension of The Representation of the People Act, 1950 and The Representation of the People Act, 1951, to the State of Sikkim.

By the 35th Amendment to the Constitution of India by The Constitution (Thirty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 1974, Article 2A to the Constitution was sought to be inserted and added making Sikkim as the Associate State with the Union of India. Later, on 10th April, 1975 Sikkim Assembly decided to abolish Chogyal (Ruler) in the State and to be declared as constituent unit of India. As such, The Constitution (Thirty-sixth Amendment) Act, 1975 introduced a 22nd constituent State called ‘Sikkim’ within the Union of India on 26th April, 1975 The Elections for electing the representatives of Sikkim in the existing House of the People and in the Council of States, were held in the year 1975. As such, The Election Laws (Extension to Sikkim) Ordinance, 1975 (9 of 1975) was promulgated, which later replaced by The Election Laws (Extension to Sikkim) Act, 1976.

Section 2 of the Act speaks of extension and amendment of election the Acts described under the Schedule annexed with this Act. Such Acts enlisted in the Schedule should be amended and extended to the State of Sikkim as on when this Act came into force.

Such Schedule annexed with the Act, firstly, amended The Representation of The People Act, 1950 (Act No. 43 of 1950), especially, Section 7A of the Act of 1950 is desired to be added after Section 7 of the said Act. The said Section 7A of the said Act is provided as to total number of seats of Sikkim in the Legislative Assembly of State of Sikkim and also provides for number of constituencies which should be 32 in the State consisting of single member. Further, Section 25A is added after Section 25 of the Act of 1950, dealing with conditions of registration as elector in Sangha constituency in Sikkim. The Scheduled first of the Act of 1950, after the Election Laws (Extension to Sikkim) Act, 1976 came into effect, contains the entry of Sikkim as State after serial number of entries under serial number 15A.

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Similarly, after the commencement of this Act of 1976, The Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Act No. 43 of 1951) is amended so far as its certain relevant Sections are concerned. Section 4 of the Act of 1951 is added with clause (ccc) containing provision as to State of Sikkim. And after Section 5 of the same Act, Section 5A added with the provision as to qualification for membership of Legislative Assembly of Sikkim. Likewise, after Section 12 of the same Act Section 12A is added dealing with Notification as to filling of seat in election of Council of States allotted to State of Sikkim and after Section 14 of that Act, Section 14A dealing with Notification as to filling of seats in election of representative of State, in existing House of People. Further, Section 33 of the Act of 1951 added with one another sub section (1A) to it containing several clauses relating to nomination formality. Similarly, Section 34 and 35 of the Act of 1951 are also amended to make provisions for adding participation of State of Sikkim in election program.

Further, Section 3 of the Act repeals the Election Laws (Extension to Sikkim) Ordinance, 1975 (9 of 1975). If any act in accordance with such Ordinance of 1975 is done should not be held illegal, however, such act should be deed to have been done in accordance to the provisions of this Act.

Under the Provisions of the Act of 1976, twelve seats out of thirty-two seats in the State Assembly were reserved for Sikkimese of Bhutia-Lepcha origin. The constitutional validity of this provision was challenged in R.C. Poudyal And Anr. Etc. Etc vs Union Of India And Ors. Etc. Etc (1993) before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, where Court held that, the impugned provisions providing reservation of 12 seats in State Legislative Assembly favouring Sikkimese of Bhutia-Lepcha origin are constitutional and not violative of basic features of democracy and republicanism under Constitution of India. Also the said provisions are not ultra-virus to any provisions of Constitution of India, especially, Article 371-F, clause (f).

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan