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What does it mean for a candidate to lose an ‘election deposit’?

The main purpose of this practice is to ensure only candidates with a genuine intention to contest end up filing the nomination. What are the rules for this? We explain.

indian elections illustrationThe security deposit is to be made by a candidate while filing their nomination.
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The state Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have concluded. As with all elections, while there will be candidates who will rake in huge victory margins, there will also be contestants who will lose their security deposit – an indicator of clear rejection at the hands of the voters.

What exactly is ‘losing the deposit’, and why is this deposit mandated in the first place?

What is an election security deposit?

An election security deposit is an amount that is to be deposited with the Returning Officer when a candidate files their nomination. This is to be submitted either in cash, or a receipt must be enclosed with the nomination paper, showing that the said sum has been deposited on the candidate’s behalf in the Reserve Bank of India or in a Government Treasury.

The main purpose of this practice is to ensure that only genuinely intending candidates end up filing the nomination to be a part of the electoral process.

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Is the amount same for all elections?

No, it depends on the particular election being conducted, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951 mentions different amounts depending on the level of election:

i. in the case of an election from a Parliamentary constituency, meaning a Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seat, the amount is Rs 25,000 and Rs 12,500 for a Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidate.

ii. in the case of an election from an Assembly or Council constituency, meaning at the level of legislative bodies in the states, it is Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 for an SC/ST candidate.


iii. even in the case of Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections, a deposit of Rs 15,000 is to be made.

When is a candidate said to ‘lose’ their security deposit?

As per the same Act, the deposit has to be forfeited at an election if the number of valid votes polled by the candidate is less than 1/6th of the total number of valid votes polled.

Or, in the case of the election of more than one member, it would be 1/6th of the total number of valid votes so polled divided by the number of members to be elected. This refers to elections by proportional representation method, as is the case in Rajya Sabha. If the candidate does meet the threshold, “the deposit shall be returned as soon as practicable after the result of the election is declared.”


If a candidate withdraws their nomination or passes away before the polls, the amount is returned.

The Act adds that “if at a general election, the candidate is a contesting candidate in more than one parliamentary constituency or in more than one assembly constituency, not more than one of the deposits shall be returned, and the others shall be forfeited.”

First published on: 08-12-2022 at 17:59 IST
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