PIL seeks minimum two-year punishment for electoral offences

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New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) A PIL filed in the Supreme Court has sought a minimum punishment of two years for electoral offences involving bribery, undue influence, impersonation, false statement, illegal payments and non-filing of election accounts by candidates and political parties.

Referring to a February 1992 Election Commission proposal, the petitioner, Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, has sought a declaration that the electoral offences be considered cognisable offences.

Pointing to February 15, 1992 proposal of the Election Commission to make electoral offences a cognisable offence, petitioner, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, said “successive governments did nothing in this regard to date”.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) says that since year 2000, not only in parliamentary elections or state assembly elections, “bribery is used to garner support even in the by-elections”.

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The petitioner says that use of unfair practices during elections by candidates and political parties is against the dictum of democracy and the free and fair elections in the spirit of Article 14, 19 and 324 of the Constitution.

Referring to Section 171H and 171I of the IPC which punishes bribery, undue influence and impersonation during elections, the PIL petitioner has contended that these are non-cognizable offences with a punishment of one-year imprisonment or fine or both.

He said that this was the position way back in 1920 and should undergo change by making these offences cognizable with a minimum punishment of two-year imprisonment.

Upadhyay has said that in 2012, the Election Commission had recommended to the Centre to amend the existing law to make bribery during elections (both cash and kind) a cognizable offence to enable police to arrest the violators without a warrant.

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Although the Union Home Ministry conveyed to the Election Commission that it has initiated the process to amend the Sections 171B and 171E of the Indian Penal Code but government has done nothing in this regard to date, says the PIL.

The Home Ministry has conveyed to the Election Commission that it has initiated the process to amend Sections 171B and 171E of the Indian Penal Code for the same, but the government is yet to do anything in this regard, it says.

–IANS

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