EC seeks 5-year ban on candidates chargesheeted for bribing voters

Devyani Sultania
EC seeks 5-year ban on candidates chargesheeted for bribing voters

The Election Commission (EC) is likely to ask the Centre to amend laws in a bid to disqualify candidates who are indicted for bribing voters. The move comes days after the EC cancelled the RK Nagar bypolls in Tamil Nadu following allegations of widespread use of money power allegedly by TTV Dinakaran, the candidate from the Sasikala camp of the AIADMK.

Sources in the poll panel told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that the EC has decided to write to the Law Ministry to seek changes in the Representation of the People Act to make sure the candidates charge-sheeted by a court are barred from contesting the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls for up to five years.

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The EC, while cancelling the bypolls for the RK Nagar Assembly seat, had said political parties outsmarted the law enforcement agencies– tasked with the responsibility to monitor poll expenditures– by using "innovative ways" to bribe voters.

The poll panel had received several complaints over leaders of political parties distributing cash and gifts to lure voters. The gifts would be in the form of tokens, prepaid phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscription, milk tokens, money transfer in no-frill bank accounts and mobile wallet payment, PTI reported.

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The EC had earlier asked the Centre to allow it to scrap a poll where use of money power was reported. The poll panel presently has the power to repeal an election if candidates use muscle power to pocket votes.

Though EC can exercise constitutional powers under Article 324 to countermand an election over use of money power, the panel wants amendment to strengthen its hands.