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Elections for 57 Rajya Sabha seats across 15 states are slated to be held on June 10 and the results will be announced on the same day.
What is Rajya Sabha?
The Rajya Sabha or the Upper House of Parliament is modelled after the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.
The Rajya Sabha currently has 245 members, including 233 elected members and 12 nominated. As per the constitutional limit, the Upper House’s strength cannot exceed 250.
While 233 members are elected from states and Union Territories (UTs), the President of India nominates the remaining 12 from the fields of art, literature, science and social services.
The Vice-President is the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.
How are Rajya Sabha MPs elected?
Rajya Sabha MPs are elected by MLAs through an indirect election. Article 80(4) provides that members shall be elected by the elected members of state Assemblies through a system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for the allocation of Rajya Sabha seats to the states and Union Territories on the basis of the population of each state.
Elections are held where there are more candidates than vacancies; otherwise, candidates are elected unopposed.
Why don’t the Rajya Sabha polls have a secret ballot?
The Rajya Sabha polls have a system of open ballots, but it is a limited form of openness.
As a measure to check rampant cross-voting, there is a system of each party MLA showing his or her marked ballots to the party’s authorized agent (called Whip), before they are put into the ballot box.
Showing a marked ballot to anyone other than one’s own party’s authorized agent will render the vote invalid. Not showing the ballot to the authorized agent will also mean that the vote cannot be counted.
And independent candidates are barred from showing their ballots to anyone.
Is there a NOTA option in voting in Rajya Sabha?
The ECI issued two circulars in 2014 and in 2015 giving Rajya Sabha members the option to press the NOTA button in the Upper House polls.
However, in 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the provision, holding that the ‘none of the above’ option is only for general elections. It cannot be applied to indirect elections based on proportional representation.
Does cross-voting attract disqualification?
The Supreme Court, while declining to interfere with the open ballot system, ruled that not voting for the party candidate will not attract disqualification under the anti-defection law.
As voters, MLAs retain their freedom to vote for a candidate of their choice.
However, the Court observed that since the party would know who voted against its own candidate, it is free to take disciplinary action against the legislator concerned.
Can a legislator vote without taking an oath as a member of the Assembly?
While taking an oath as a member is for anyone to function as a legislator, the Supreme Court has ruled that a member can vote in a Rajya Sabha election even before taking an oath as a legislator.
It ruled that voting at the Rajya Sabha polls, being a non-legislative activity, can be performed without taking an oath.
A person becomes a member as soon as the list of elected members is notified by the ECI. Further, a member can also propose a candidate before taking an oath.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: How are Rajya Sabha MPs elected?” published in Indian Express on 8th June 2022.