Municipal corporation by-elections recently took place in Delhi where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won four out of the five seats and the remainder was lost to the Congress. The Indian Express reported, “In a big upset, the Congress won the Chauhan Banger ward, which was held by the AAP. Its candidate Chaudhary Zubair Ahmad defeated AAP’s Mohammad Ishraq Khan by over 10,000 votes.”
On March 3, Congress Chhattisgarh tweeted that the AAP lost its election deposit in one of the seats.
दिल्ली नगर निगम उपचुनाव में सत्ताधारी पार्टी AAP की एक सीट पर जमानत जब्त, वहां कांग्रेस जीती।
— INC Chhattisgarh (@INCChhattisgarh) March 3, 2021
What is an election deposit?
As per the Representation of People Act, 1951, in order to partake in an election, a candidate has to deposit a certain amount to the Election Commission. This is known as an election deposit. The amount is forfeited if the candidate doesn’t attain 1/6th (16.6%) of the total valid votes.
Congress Chhattisgarh implied that in Chauhan Banger ward, AAP’s Mohammad Ishraq Khan gained less than 16.6% of total valid votes and as a result, lost his election deposit.
The Representation of People Act, 1951, point 34 titled ‘Deposit,’ states that a candidate shall not be deemed to be duly nominated for election from a constituency unless they deposit ₹25,000 in the case of an election from a Parliamentary constituency or ₹10,000 in the case of an election from an Assembly or Council constituency. This amount is 50% less in case the candidate is from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
As per point 158 ‘Return of forfeiture of candidate’s deposit’ of the Act, if a candidate doesn’t gain one-sixth (16.6%) of the total number of valid votes the deposit amount is forfeited. The only exception to this is if the candidate dies before the commencement of the poll.
Data by Delhi State Election Commission states that the total valid votes in Chauhan Banger ward were 21,968 and AAP gained 5561 votes which is 25.3%. Congress Chhattisgarh’s claim therefore cannot be true.
In an attempt to clarify, the party later tweeted that the deposit was “almost lost” which is also misleading.
AAP’s Mohammad Ishraq Khan who lost to Chaudhary Zubair Ahmad of the Congress did not have to forfeit his election deposit. Congress Chhattisgarh’s claim is false.