EC seeks power to disqualify candidates bribing voters

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on April 12, 2017

CCTV cameras installed ahead of the now-cancelled RK Nagar byelections

If the proposal is approved, wrongdoers will be disqualified for up to five years

Following the RK Nagar bypoll fiasco, the Election Commission (EC) plans to push for disqualification of candidates who offer bribes to voters. The EC wants candidates promoting corruption to be treated on a par with those charged with heinous crimes, and to be barred from contesting polls for a certain period.

The Commission will soon write to the Centre, recommending that candidates being charge-sheeted for bribing voters be disqualified from contesting elections in the same way as those charge-sheeted for heinous crimes.

5-year limit

If the proposal goes through, it could see the candidate being disqualified for up to five years. The Commission’s recommendations also reiterate that it should be given the power to countermand elections if voters are bribed.

The EC decided to rescind elections to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu on Sunday after it learnt of money being used to influence voters.

The Commission is yet to fix a new date for the polls. In issuing the order, it stated that elections would be held “in due course, when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors gets removed with the passage of time...”

Huge seizure

Preliminary results of search and seizure action by income-tax officials had showed that ₹5 crore in cash was seized from the confidantes of C Vijaya Baskar, the Tamil Nadu Health Minister, and from his village.

Distribution charts, ward-wise and voter-wise, totalling ₹89 crore, were also found and seized from the room allotted to Baskar in the MLAs’ hostel, the Commission order stated.

Given that use of illegal money in elections is likely to become a bigger issue in years to come, the Commission cites a landmark from 1989, when the law was amended to give it the power to countermand elections in case it was proved that a candidate used muscle power to win an election.

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Published on April 12, 2017
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